Clarksons chief executive Andi Case is charting a path to further growth after record results, but knows the competition is fierce.
He told TradeWinds the London-listed shipbroker had come through “interesting times” in 2022 to post a best-ever operating result of £100.9m ($121.5m), up from £69.4m a year earlier.
The group has been adding smaller businesses through takeovers in broking and technology in recent years and does not plan to stop now.
“Sometimes the acquisitions get the headlines, but we’ve been hiring some really good people into the business as well over the period,” Case said.
“So we’re looking carefully at aspects across all the arenas, whether that be broking, financial, research, support and also technology.”
Renewables and the green energy transition are also areas of expansion being examined.
“We’re in a good position. The cash is in a good position, but also the forward orderbook is in a very healthy position,” he added. “We’re looking at how we can grow the business and we’re very focused on that.”
Case acknowledged the high level of competition from rivals.
“There are some really good competitors out there. If we snooze, we lose,” he told TradeWinds.
“We’re always looking to hire the best talent available.”
And he emphasised there are still a lot of smaller shops out there, despite more consolidation in recent years.
Bigger can be better
But transactions for these more niche operators are getting trickier to negotiate due to the need for sanctions compliance that may be beyond a small team.
“I think the world is changing, the world is getting more complex — the requirement for people to deal with KYC [know your client] and things like sanctions,” Case said.
Customers are requiring shipbroking companies to carry out far more diligence now, rather than being a “pop-up shipbroking shop with five or 10 guys”.
“I expect there to be more consolidation,” he added, pointing to the tie-up this year between Ifchor in Switzerland and Galbraiths in London.
“We would expect to see more of that action — it’s great.”
‘Outstanding’ job from the team
After posting record results on Monday, Case said: “I wanted to thank all the people in Clarksons. Every area of the business has knocked it out of the park.
“They’ve done an outstanding job.”
The group has had to deal with big changes as Covid unravelled and the war in Ukraine meant parts of the business were forced to refocus quickly.
And the top team of Case, a working broker as well as CEO, and finance and operations chief Jeff Woyda does not appear to be easing off the gas.
Case said: “We haven’t even got going get. We’ve just started.”
The company is on a strong financial footing, and additional markets are allowing it to push on, he added.