A short Ferry Shipping News interview with Peder Gellert, EVP DFDS Group

Some time ago we met Peder Gellert, EVP head of all roro and ropax activities in DFDS Group at the HQ in Copenhagen. It was a few days before the move to the new office, overlooking the Oslo terminal.

Peder Gellert joined DFDS in 1994, when he developed the eastern Baltic activities, in what was then called Lisco. This has developed very well over the years with traffic from Kiel and Karlshamn to Klaipeda.

End of last year DFDS took delivery of the 4,500-lane-metre ropax AURA SEAWAYS, for the Klaipeda routes.

Traditionally DFDS has been focused on the North Sea and Eastern Baltic.

Peder, now DFDS is very well developed in other areas too.

Yes. Apart from the eastern Baltic, our services from Turkey to Italy, France and Spain have had a strong growth. This operation is pure roro and deploys the two of our new Mega RoRo’s of 6,500 lane metre in the Med fleet.

So we are back in the Med, now focussing on freight. Of course, the North Sea routes are still the main trading area.

What is the total revenue and size of DFDS Ferry operation today?

The activities employ 5,381 people and revenue is EUR 1,587 million.

DFDS Group revenue is EUR 2,403 million and net profit is EUR 131 million.

The passenger activities are today a minor, but important part of the route network. How do you see the future there?

For the traditional Copenhagen – Frederikshavn – Oslo route, we have seen a strong winter traffic in February, and we believe that the passenger traffic will recover now after the difficult Corona period. The city-to-city concept is still very attractive for short break and conference traffic.

The Amsterdam- Newcastle route, with a good balance of freight and passenger traffic will need bigger tonnage with more car deck capacity in future.

The Dover – Calais passenger traffic will also come back after the Corona period. However, the freight has been performing very well also during the pandemic. On this route we have also introduced new tonnage.

We also expect that the new tax-free possibilities on all UK passenger routes will give an extra income to the operations.

How does DFDS plan for the new “Fit for 55 rules”?

We have a transformation strategy and a Climate action plan. The drive is to reduce emissions from our existing fleet started in 2021. The actions will be a combination of different tools, that are adjusted to the various routes service speed, distance, and tonnage type.  For the fuel alternatives in the existing fleet, we are evaluating various option. This will eventually lead to some retrofit of engines.

How do you see the future?

Freight volumes are expected to grow in most of the markets 2022, The UK freight is expected to increase following the slowdown in 2021, especially on the channel. The entry of a third operator on the Channel (*Irish Ferries) is likely to create price pressure.

The Med routes are expected to grow the freight, driven by Turkish export.

The eastern Baltic routes have a growth expectation on both passenger and freight side. This is driven by the two new ropax ferries.

The present development in Ukraine has dampened expectation somewhat. However, the present traffic is mainly to and from the Baltic countries and less transit to and from Russia.

You are turning 64 this year. How about your personal plan?

I have had many interesting and good years in DFDS. The last 2-3 years have been very challenging following the Corona and Brexit effects.

The time for family and friends has been limited. I believe that now is the right time for new younger people to take over, Consequently, I have informed the Board of directors in due time, that I will step down and retire in August. I will stay so that I can introduce my successor.

We say many thanks to Peder Gellert and looking forward to meet you as a speaker at our Ferry Shipping Summit in Malmö, 19-20 May 2022.