Logistics on every transport route

Logistics on every transport route

The company was already well positioned on land and in the air. Now the logistics group Deutsche Post DHL is taking over the Mainz-based sea freight specialist J.F. Hillebrand. by Dirk Mewis

Logistics group Deutsche Post DHL wants to take over Mainz-based sea freight specialist J.F. Hillebrand in order to expand its beverage shipping business. The company acts as a broker, so to speak – booking container capacity to ship products across the world’s oceans and supply wholesalers with beverages. A contract has been signed to acquire up to 100 percent of the Mainz-based group for around 1.5 billion euros, the Deutsche Post subsidiary announced.

The seller is Belgian financial investor Cobepa. Hillebrand is mainly active in sea freight and brings, for example, whiskey from Irish distilleries to the warehouses of wholesalers and supermarket chains. With its approximately 2700 employees, the company most recently generated annual sales of 1.4 billion euros. For 2021, Hillebrand expects to transport 500,000 standard containers. By comparison, DHL came to 2.9 million standard containers in sea freight in 2020. According to the company, Hillebrand’s customers include the Campari Group or the major brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev.

For the purchase agreement to become valid, it still requires the approval of various antitrust authorities, such as the European Union and the United States. DHL intends to pay for the purchase from its own funds without taking out new loans, as the logistics giant’s coffers are well filled.

The acquisition is “an excellent addition to our existing portfolio,” said DHL CEO Frank Appel. “In line with our group strategy, we are strengthening our core logistics business and ensuring long-term profitable growth.” Hillebrand CEO Cees van Gent said he was “now looking forward to joining forces with Deutsche Post DHL Group,” referring to Hillebrand’s 177-year history.

Logistics group raises forecast further

The freight division was long considered the problem child of the Bonn-based logistics group due to low margins and following a failed data processing changeover. After Tim Scharwath moved to head the division with its 42,000 employees in mid-2017 and restructured it, that changed. In the first half of 2021, the division’s sales climbed to just under ten billion euros (previous year: 7.7), operating income increased to 528 (264) million euros, and the return on sales reached 5.3 (3.4) percent. With the takeover, the business is now expected to grow further. In the sea freight sector, Swiss Post competes with Kühne + Nagel or DSV Panalpina, among others.

At the same time, the continuing boom in online retailing gave Deutsche Post DHL another record result in the second quarter. At just under 2.1 billion euros, operating profit was more than twice as high as in the previous year. The logistics giant therefore further raised its earnings forecast for 2021 and medium-term earnings outlook for 2023. “The second quarter once again proved that global trade continues to recover and that the e-commerce boom is here to stay – with us benefiting strongly from both developments,” explained Group CEO Frank Appel. According to him, all of the Group’s divisions worldwide continued to work at full speed and significantly exceeded their prior-year results. With the lockdowns in the Corona crisis, the trend towards online retailing had intensified. Many consumers had increasingly ordered packages from home.

The logistics group now expects earnings before interest and taxes of more than seven billion euros. Previously, the company had assumed more than 6.7 billion euros. The Group also raised its medium-term outlook for 2023. Here, Deutsche Post now expects consolidated earnings of more than 7.4 billion euros, instead of the previous seven billion euros.

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