Jim Davis, one of the best-known and most charismatic figures in shipping, has died aged 92.
Davis was chairman of the International Maritime Industries Forum (IMIF) until 2015.
He had a life-long career in the industry, including numerous executive and consultancy roles, starting at P&O before moving on to Kleinwort Benson, the Foresight Group, Associated British Ports, DFDS, ClassNK, Bureau Veritas and the Tsavliris Group.
He was a popular host of the IMIF’s annual dinner, where he combined his trademark risque humour with stern criticism of the industry’s habit of oversupplying tonnage. His regular observation that fewer ships should be ordered and more demolished won him the affectionate nickname “Scrapper Jim”.
He was awarded Denmark’s Commander’s Cross of the Order of the Dannebrog for his contribution to trade relations between Britain and Denmark. He was also made a Commander of the British Empire.
His daughter Katrina Davis, who followed him into shipping and is now with insurance broker Gallagher, said the family had received messages of condolence from people across the industry who knew Davis and wanted to share stories of their time with him.
She said he was inspirational in her and other people’s careers and was devoted to the industry. “He loved it, he lived and breathed it,” she said. “He always wanted to help people and no one had a bad word to say about him.”
Foresight Group chairman Ravi Mehrotra said that Davis helped him build up his business.
“You know, he was the first man when I came to London in 1984 whom I met,” Mehrotra said.
“Later on, I persuaded him to join our group as non-executive director and then he became the most senior director of Foresight Group, where he helped us tremendously to reorganise the group into a family trust-controlled business.”
Norton Rose Fulbright senior consultant Harry Theochari described Davis as “without question one of the giants of the modern industry”.
‘A gentleman in every sense of the word’
“Jim had a real love for our industry, which shone through in everything that he said or did during his truly illustrious career. He was a true servant of the industry, always looking to improve and modernise,” Theochari said.
“Above all he was a truly kind person, a gentleman in every sense of the word, who will be fondly remembered and missed by everyone who had the great pleasure of knowing him.”
Davis also captained the “Anglo” shipping golf team for its annual match against its Norwegian counterparts, where he came up against close friend and fierce golfing rival Arne Wilhelmsen, founder of Royal Caribbean Cruises.
Current Anglo team captain Roger Holt said: “Jim will be sorely missed by us all, Anglos and Norwegians alike, not only as a very creditable golfer but as a great storyteller who enlivened every post-match dinner with his good-natured wit and banter.”
Davis is survived by wife Hanny and three daughters.