December 2020 - WCL

Market insight: Kuehne + DHL + Schenker: call it a Super-NVOCC triumvirate

Thanks to the courtesy of Loadstar, WCL has been authorized to publish
the full article even though it is paid content.


Take three chief executives who know each other well, all carrying the old-school Kuehne + Nagel (K+N) badge thanks to over 40 years of combined experience at the world ocean freight leader out of Switzerland. Detlef Trefzger, seven years at K+N, after 14 at DB Schenker; Tim Scharwath, with his stunning 24 years at K+N, now at DHL Global Forwarding for over three years; and Jochen Thewes with over 12 years at K+N, now at DB Schenker for five.

Anything can happen when three gorillas in freight forwarding meet up. Even more so if the gathering were ever masterminded by the king of the forest.


Their ocean volumes sagging, and freight rate hikes forced upon them by the carriers – which have eventually learnt how to control capacity and make money – and then the companies they lead, unable to pass on the price increases straightaway to the shippers, with whom they hold the relationship.

Obviously constrained on the air freight front as belly capacity has never been tighter, these forwarders are under perennial scrutiny given the very nature of their businesses, but also they are the smartest bunch in the supply chain, albeit by self proclamation.

Wary of anti-trust risk here, setting the scene for (vertical consolidation) murder may be easier on paper than in reality, but we went for it with a bit of extra help for what is in essence a thought-provoking exercise, substantiated by valuable external feedback. […]