Germany's Hanse Bereederung knows it cannot compete in terms of personnel with bigger shipbrokers, but it can offer a vital personal touch.

The company, active for more than 40 years as a Schoeller Group in-house broker and charterer, as well as a third-party shop, told TradeWinds that it does not like to make much of a fuss.

"We are not as well known as the big broking houses, but this doesn't mean we are inactive," Alex Karydis, director of chartering and sale and purchase (S&P), said.

"Our strategy is a more personalised, quiet and discreet service."

Two thirds of its business focuses on exclusive tonnage from Schoeller, and one third from exploring new business.

The company is close to quite a few Greek owners.

"We do deals very quietly," Karydis — himself a Greek — said.

This often involves small specialised lines.

Karydis gave the example of exclusive client SBS Shipping, a niche operator that started in 1973 and used to be an owner.

Now SBS has a dedicated liner service between Greece and Cyprus.

"This is very, very niche, focusing mainly on this trade and nothing else," Karydis said.

The broker believes owners should focus on offering clients the full package — such as SBS — of getting a box from A to B.

Karydis added that big operators already offer this, with logistics and freight forwarding.

Tailor-made service

Bereederung's service is very specific to each individual.

"We all know that shipping is a personalities industry," Karydis said. "The person has a huge importance for us.

"If you treat them like chips in a poker game, this is not nice, they will eventually realise. You will give them business, they will be happy that they make money, but they will not like it because they are not a number."

Karydis said "they [clients] have a name" at Bereederung, adding that this is what separates the company from the major brokers.

"They [the big brokers] are fixing factories," he said. "We fix too, but we are always focusing on fixing problems from the moment the deal is done."