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Hillebrand rebrand ahead of ‘journey of growth’

Published:  08 October, 2019

Global beverage and bulk liquid forwarder JF Hillebrand is unifying its various business arms, including past acquisitions such as Trans Ocean Bulk Logistics and Satellite Logistics Group, under the one Hillebrand banner.

The rebranding under the single name during its 175 anniversary year presages a drive to expand the company’s logistics and freight forwarding both within its core business of wines, spirits and beers, and to encompass a broader spread of ‘adjacent’ goods that also benefit from specialist transportation.

“We have started a journey of growth, both organic and inorganic growth through acquisitions, along with the expansion of adjacents – other products relating to wines and spirits, raw materials, which our customer base has been requesting,” Hillebrand’s CEO, Cees van Gent, told Harpers.

“One single brand facilitates the expansion, either through acquisitions or expanding our services to other related commodities that also requires special care,” he added, while stressing that alcoholic beverages will remain firmly at the core of Hillebrand’s proposition.

Hillebrand is a global leader in the transportation of “sensitive” goods such as wine and beer, where thermal and other risk must be carefully managed to ensure that at-source-quality is maintained all along the end-toend supply chain.

The company has grown to dominate the global wine and spirit logistics and forwarding market, currently commanding a 30% share, with a presence in 90 countries.

A new company strapline - ‘Forwarding Passion’ – is intended to convey the quality of Hillebrand’s service and people, as well as what the company describes as “a looking ahead mentality” that informs the company culture.

Asked about challenges posed by current market conditions, van Gent offered a global view that almost certainly underpins the expansion ambitions of Hillebrand, while highlighting the decline in wine in several of the most traditional European markets.

Van Gent described “stagnation” in the UK wine market and uncertainty around Brexit, along with declining wine consumption in some other regions as one of the “main challenges we are seeing at the moment”.

However, while saying that the UK remains a “very important market” for Hillebrand, he contrasted this with what he described as “double digit growth in other countries and trade lanes”, which the company, with its global network, “can easily adapt to”.

Further growth areas identified by the company include British gin, a category that has seen “huge uplift in exports”, with sales fast growing across Asian markets.

Sake, too, “is another opportunity” for Hillebrand, said van Gent, “being even more sensitive [when transported] than wine and beer and becoming more and more popular outside of Japan”.

The company has also placed sustainability at the heart of its ethos, with an ambitious programme aimed at reducing carbon emissions by 45% per container by 2025 from 2008 base levels.

This includes a focus on rail over road, along with a drive to recycle bulk-carrying flexitanks, of which the company recycled 72% in 2018.