The Power 25: Forwarders are rising fast, but keep those seatbelts fastened

Fastest Risers

In the lower-middle of the Power 25 pack, the movement was more volatile, especially with the Asian forwarders making impressive leaps in activity. China’s Apex Logistics International, for example, outpaced all other forwarders with a 42% increase in revenues ($1.35 billion) and a 34.4% rise in air tonnage (430,000) to sprint five spots ahead from No. 19 last year to No. 14. “They’re bigger than a lot of 3PLs now,” Armstrong said. “I think they’re up and coming… They’re doing a lot of work with the largest e-tailer in the world” – Amazon – “and they’re doing a nice job with e-commerce cross-border.”

Hong Kong’s Kerry Logistics (No. 16) has leapt up the Power 25 ladder by four rungs, increasing its tonnage by 30.4%, year-over-year (409,127), and revenue was up 23% ($4.82 billion). “They keep solid with the intra-Asia network as well,” Armstrong said. “There are operations in Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam – it’s a good growth story there.”

Armstrong said that, since Japan’s Kintetsu World Express purchased APL Logistics in 2015, “it’s been kind of quiet there.” However, after increasing its volumes by 21.2% to just over 600,000 tonnes, Kintetsu has leapfrogged up the chart from No. 12 to No. 10 on this year’s Power 25 list.

John Magee, president and CEO of No. 20, Crane Worldwide Logistics, said, “obviously the trade war with China had an impact as some clients elected to ship more airfreight later into the fourth quarter than usual. But overall, 2018 was a strong year of growth for us across the board. We saw increased tonnage across every vertical.”

Although France’s GEODIS slipped slightly from No. 17 to No. 18 this year, Armstrong said it is still seeing positive results from buying OHL in 2016, and is getting “some incremental benefit from cross-selling freight forwarding to North American customers.” It also saw a 10.1% rise, y-o-y, in air volume, totaling more than 363,000 tonnes in 2018.

Finally, the move of Pilot Freight to No. 24 (see sidebar), made just enough room for U.S.-based C.H. Robinson to make its first-ever Power 25 ranking, sliding in at No. 25. After many years of growth and acquisitions, C.H. Robinson’s global forwarding gross revenue rose by 16.8% last year. “Growing our airfreight product has been a top priority,” said Mike Short, president of global forwarding for C.H. Robinson. “This translated to growth above market levels and consistent year-over-year growth over the last four years.”

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