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Kerry Logistics Network’s freight forwarding division drove growth at the group, which saw core net profit in 2020 grow 33% to HK$3.32bn (US$234m).

Revenues rose 30% to HK$53.3bn, while its cash position grew some 45%, to HK$8.47bn.

Kerry’s International Freight Forwarding (IFF) arm was “the powerhouse”, said the company, accounting for 28% of the total profit, with its own profit up 64% year on year.

“The growth was mainly driven by a high global demand for pandemic-related goods, as well as production and exports from mainland China,” said the firm.

“It created the favourable conditions for the group to capture opportunities from the unprecedented volatile global freight market, in terms of rates, capacity and equipment availability.”

IFF revenues in mainland China nearly doubled, to HK$15.3bn, while Hong Kong, Taiwan and the Americas also saw decent growth. But while revenue in Hong Kong grew 55%, profit in the region soared 329%.

It is now one year since the full acquisition of Apex and Kerry Apex saw volumes increase 17% in 2020, professing to be the number-one NVOCC from Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia to the US, and number-two from Asia to the US last year.

And Kerry said it expected demand to remain strong in international freight forwarding.

“The overall market situation in H1 21 is expected to remain similar to H2 20, but with lower volatility. The global supply chain is not likely to see normality until after 2021,” it predicted.

Kerry’s Integrated Logistics (IL) division saw profit grow 8%, driven by a “strong performance in Hong Kong and Taiwan”.

The Hong Kong warehouse division saw a fall in revenue following the disposal of two warehouses, but otherwise the division grew 10%, “benefiting from the rise in demand for home-delivered daily necessities, electronic goods and pharmaceutical logistics”.

Mainland China saw IL profits bounce back in the second half, after a 37% drop in the first six months, as manufacturing resumed and e-commerce grew rapidly.

In Asia overall, IL business was affected by lockdowns and the switch from consumer goods business to essential supply sectors. Meanwhile, Kerry has expanded its express business to the Philippines with a joint-venture company, in which the group has a 51% share.

Kerry is upbeat about its future, following the decision last month by SF Holdings to buy a majority share.

“Scale and technological advances are crucial for any company in this industry to retain its competitiveness over its peers and drive changes in the global logistics arena,” noted Kerry. “To this end, the proposed strategic cooperation with SF Holding will scale-up KLN Group, extending its reach and enhancing its R&D capabilities.

“Coupled with a diversified geographical presence and a broad range of service capabilities, it will allow KLN Group to strengthen its resilience, enhance its flexibility and provide more diversified product offerings to its customers during these unprecedented times.”

William Ma, group managing director, added: “The Covid-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented challenges to everything from global public health to people’s livelihoods. The stop-and-go momentum of the global economy has caused severe disruption to the global supply chain. With human mobility severely curtailed, the role of logistics has become ever more paramount. Every link in the supply chain from sourcing and manufacturing to the distribution of finished products must still be maintained.

“In 2020, thanks to the collective efforts of our colleagues and business partners, KLN Group achieved record growth in both revenue and core net profit, clearly demonstrating the group’s resilience and capability to evolve through the pandemic.”

You can see the full results here.

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