The below are excerpts of an article in ShippingWatch, published May 20, 2022. Written by Idha Toft Valeur, English edit by Kristoffer Grønbæk and Jonas Sahl Hollænder.
Harald Fotland seemed like the obvious choice when the owning family behind chemical tanker operator Odfjell together with the remaining board were to choose the next chief executive.
For a long time, Fotland has worked together with his predecessor, Kristian Mørch, and knows every corner of the organization after 12 years with the Norwegian carrier.
”Kristian and I have worked very closely together for the last seven years, so the decisions that have been made, we have made together. This means there won’t be a drastic change of direction at Odfjell,” says the new chief exec in an interview taking place only three days into Fotland’s reign as CEO.
”We have had a target-oriented development since 2015, and we need to continue in that direction.”
If the board, spearheaded by Laurence Odfjell, had wished for a complete change of strategy, it would probably have picked a candidate outside the company.
But Fotland was chosen. He has, as he describes it, been in charge of all Odfjell divisions besides finance and terminals, thus carrying with him a thorough understanding of how the company works on an organizational level.
The long-term plan is to create stability and profitability in Odfjell over time. The company has had ten years of mixed results.
The goal is to create a more resilient Odfjell, which can continue to deliver stable results even when the market is poor. The plans also have a green element, as the company, like other shipping firms, faces having to reduce its climate footprint markedly.
According to Fotland, it has taken a long time to convince customers of this focus. At first, climate-related announcements were met with ”a disappointing response,” he says. Since then, however, reactions have been better, he adds.
The first quarter of the year is behind us, and Odfjell delivered black figures with a net profit of USD 11.1m, which was a marked improvement from the loss of USD 15.6m at the same time last year. For 2021 as a whole, the year ended with a loss as well, coming to a deficit of USD 33.2m.
For the next period, Odfjell seems to be entering a positive market.
“I think you need to go back a long way in our quarterly reports to find similarly clear and positive market outlooks from Odfjell. We are positive regarding all of 2022 and 2023.”