‘Strong and expansive vision’: KWL optimistic about its future
Following a financial year that saw revenues increase by double digits, Kingston Wharves Limited (KWL) CEO Mark Williams is optimistic about the port company’s future performance.
“Despite the supply chain challenges induced by the pandemic, we continued to carry out our mandate of delivering world-class terminal and logistics services,” Williams said at the company’s annual general meeting at the AC Hotel in Kingston recently.
KWL achieved revenues of $8.7 billion in 2021, a 22 per cent increase over the previous year, and operating profit of $3.8 billion, a 36 per cent increase over 2020. That improved performance continued into 2022 as the company recorded first-quarter consolidated revenues of $2.25 billion, a 21 per cent increase over the corresponding period last year. Pre-tax profit stood at $769 million, a 19 per cent increase over the previous year.
Additionally, Williams reported that in 2021, the company achieved a record increase in all cargo types handled, including a record 160,000 motor vehicle unit moves, a 42 per cent increase over the previous year.
He added that KWL has strengthened its role as a global player in the auto cargo trans-shipment business through strategic investments in motor vehicle management infrastructure and by consolidating strategic alliances with global autoliners. Through its partners, KWL is now involved in moving auto cargo to countries as far away as Australia and New Zealand.
The terminal also realised a 102 per cent increase in break bulk cargo volumes; 28 per cent growth in bulk cargo, five per cent increase in containers volumes.
“During the pandemic, the terminal remained open 24 hours per day, seven days per week, providing a safe harbour for shipping lines seeking an alternative to the congestion in the global supply chain,” Williams said.
The company is also moving ahead with plans to establish itself as a nearshoring destination, to provide support to local and regional manufacturers and distributors impacted by supply chain issues and other geopolitical challenges. “Through nearshoring, KWL plans to support manufacturers and distributors in managing their supply chain needs close to their target markets, including inventory management.”
He reminded that ports were funnels for economic growth with direct, indirect and induced economic multipliers, adding that KWL’s investment in measures to capitalise on nearshoring would have spin-offs for the wider economy.
Noting major investments to advance that nearshoring agenda, Williams disclosed that the company is in the process of completing works surrounding its US$60-million infrastructural development projects – the redevelopment of Berth 7 and construction of its Integrated Modular Warehouse Complex at Ashenheim Road in Kingston. “We have conducted preliminary works and construction is to get under way shortly.”
The company continued to make significant investment in its processes by rolling out digital technology and e-commerce solutions, deploying digital technology in customer service delivery; contactless cargo clearance; integrated security management programme; an advanced terminal operating system; and involvement in the Port Authority of Jamaica’s Port Community System,Williams said.
“The horizon ahead may be a bit foggy, the winds may be contrary, but we continue to forge ahead in confidence, knowing that we have taken the right steps to achieve success. We have a strong and expansive vision; we have laid the groundwork; we have made the investments in our physical and digital infrastructure; we have equipped our people; and we are putting in the work. Our business is prepared for the future, and we look forward to continuing to share this journey with you.”
Kingston Wharves is a multipurpose port terminal and logistics services provider that facilitates shipping connections to over 45 global destinations. The company handles containerised cargo; bulk shipments, such as grains and oil; as well as break-bulk cargo, such as motor vehicles and project cargo (steel and lumber).