Inchcape Shipping Services is a shipping agent company that provides marine services. It typically specializes in support and agency services to the port agency, management, ship-owners, crew management, transit, and offshore support, cargo services, and humanitarian logistics services. The company operates throughout the world, with over 240 offices in different locations. Mostly, Inchcape experts act on behalf of charters/ship managers and ship owners to make sure that all crew services, changes, and port operations are conducted smoothly. Most of these services include dry-docking, cargo agency, financial management, bunker calls, husbandry, crew logistics, survey, and inspection.
The primary role of the Inchcape Company is to ensure that all the paperwork and documentation are well prepared before the ship arrives. Once the Inchcape crew is prefunded, they strive to provide everything is paid for— paying for the next ship’s pilots, any outstanding dues, tugs, or any other stuff. Subsequently, if there are any ship delays on the port, Inchcape strives to address these issues and keep constant communication with ship owners to ensure everything is moving on as planned. They also send a statement of effects showing how things happened.
Also, suppose there was a problem or delay due to insufficient oil. In that case, the Inchcape shipping agent can help keep records and promptly communicate as they owe demurrage (a charge payable to the charter owner in respect of failure to discharge the ship within the agreed time). This makes Inchcape a more secure shipping agent as compared to other smaller agents.
Inchcape performs yet another critical responsibility for arranging crew changes. If the ship owner wants to sign off a certain group of crew, Inchcape helps by sending out letters of invitation to allow the team to get through immigration. Furthermore, they will arrange for transport from the airport to the ship and back for the signing off process. If one of the crew members gets sick or requires immediate medical attention, Inchcape arranges transport, and caters to medical expenses. Most importantly, they facilitate every need that the ship may need, whether it is airtime, spare parts, or bicycle. Although it’s a new service, Inchcape also provides survey solutions.
Inchcape’s CEO, Frank Olsen, is dedicated to moving the company to the next level. In his two years in Inchcape, Olsen has devoted his skill to improving its values of ship agency and its focus on traditional business. Frank started by divesting the company’s freight forwarding arm in the Middle East, claiming they were capital intensive. He told the Seatrade Maritime News that the costs were too high that left the company in debt, leaving it in an uncomfortable location with low leverage during uncertain times.
The CEO then moved on to strengthening Inchcape’s main differentiator, its global network of more than 240 offices in about 68 countries. He also spearheaded the company’s partner agencies’ improvement worldwide, covering about 2,500 port that translates to around 85 percent of all available ports in the world. Mr. Olsen also explains that Inchcape is the most unique of the three main ship agency groups for their single-minded focus and for being heavily involved in superior logistics. The CEO also points out that his former employer, Wilhelmsen, is a competent and highly diversified agency.
Olsen also says that the primary reason there is fragmentation in the ship agency market is that about 80 percent of the market share in the hands of smaller players is mistrust. He explains that this is why Inchcape launched the ‘transparency’ initiative to help build valuable and meaningful relationships. Moreover, Olsen believes that relationships of trust are essential only if operators and agents are to work as a team. That is why the company is working extra hard to show they are transparent, valuable, and trustworthy partners to their customers.