A shipping line set up by Europe’s largest retailer has made its first move into shipowning and operating with three charters and the purchase of its first container ship.
Tailwind Shipping Lines, the fledgling operation established by supermarket chain Lidl, has bought the 5,527-teu panamax Talassa (built 2005) from Hamburg owner Peter Dohle Schiffahrts.
The German-owned retailer has also taken three wide-beam vessels on long-term charters of up to four years.
These include the 4,957-teu Wiking (built 2016) from Germany’s Reederei Tamke and its 4,957-teu sister vessel Jadrana (built 2014) from the Peter Dohle fleet.
The third vessel is the 3,868-teu Merkur Ocean (built 2013), belonging to Bremen-based FA Vinnen, which has been taken for four years with delivery in early August, said brokers.
The four vessels involved are managed in Hamburg by Peter Dohle’s commercial entity Blue Net Chartering.
TradeWinds reported last week that Germany’s Lidl Stiftung & Co KG is forming its own shipping operation in order to beat supply chain problems.
The company, which is part of the privately-owned Schwarz Group, is expected to put its own ships into service by the middle of the year for operation in the Asia to Europe trades.
“We can confirm that Lidl will use partially own capacities for sea freight in the future,” Lidl said in a statement.
“This is another component for securing our supply chains and the availability of goods in our stores.”
Tailwind is believed to be paying a high price to acquire the Talassa.
Last month, Taiwan-listed Wan Hai Lines paid $109.5m for the 5,527-teu sistership Allegoria (built 2006) and the price of the sistership will be similar, according to brokers.
With just four ships, Lidl would not initially have enough capacity to operate a weekly service and so will use existing container shipping services alongside its own fledgling operation.
“We continue to rely to a large extent on the valuable and well-coordinated cooperation with our partners,” Lidl said.
The company is the latest in a line of retailers seeking to take control of their own shipping operations.
The move mirrors efforts by other retailers that have been wrestling with high freight costs and supply chain problems.
In January, Pasha Hawaii took a series of ships for a service in the transpacific on the back of commitments provided by US retailer Costco.
Previously companies including Ikea, Walmart and Home Depot have chartered container ships directly.