As the April edition of Tyres & Accessories went to press, the story of the Ever Given – the 400-metre long container ship that got wedged in the Suez canal – was getting a surprising amount of news coverage. The spectacle of a ship the length of four football pitches was enough to capture the attention of many. For others, the anecdotes of tenacious tug pilots and plucky digger drivers trying to free the gargantuan vessel from its unscheduled moorings did the trick. But for those in the tyre trade – and hundreds of other lines of work connected with global logistics – there were solid business reasons for their interest. “How many boxes have you got on the Ever Given?”, one tyre wholesaler asked. “It’s times like this…”, the other comically replied leaving the rest of his reply to the imagination.
As August came to its close, the world’s seventh largest – and South Korea’s biggest – container shipping line, Hanjin Shipping, filed for court receivership, consumed by mounting debt schedules with creditors and increasing industry overcapacity. Hanjin had suffered annual net losses from 2011-2014 – with total debt in June reaching a staggering $5.5billion. While there may be hope on the horizon, (Hyundai Merchant Marine are in talks to acquire Hanjin’s vessels and staff), for the time being, ports in China and the US have denied entry to Hanjin ships and goods cannot be unloaded. Discussions between banks and Hanjin are yet to proffer a solution, though it seems likely that its Asia-United States route and related sales and marketing assets could be on sale by the end of the week in order to raise rehabilitation funds, several news sources have reported.
Reflecting on the Brexit news, prompts us to think about the part of the tyre trade the does business the most regularly on the continent – the wholesale sector. But first, let’s take a look at the car trade by way of a proxy. Following the Brexit nes, he National Franchised Dealers Association, which represents franchised car and commercial vehicle dealers in the UK, considered the impact on trading, with Sue Robinson, director of the NFDA saying: