A friendly face for Europe in Türkiye's shipping industry

Carl Johan Warfvinge, Business Development Director at Kinay, spoke to the TradeWinds Content Studio about how he's opening the door to old friends, and new, who wish to capitalise on Kinay's successes in the Turkish market.

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Carl Johan Warfvinge, Business Development Director at Kinay. Photo: Kinay.

Traversing unknown territory can be a major risk for some in business, but taking that leap can become exponentially more rewarding with the right people on the ground. Carl Johan Warfvinge is hoping to be the bridge between Europe and Türkiye with his latest role at Kinay, closing the gap between European companies who are considering working within the Turkish market. This somewhat unknown space for some could hold many opportunities within shipping as current affairs continue to cause fluctuations in the maritime industry.

TradeWinds Content Studio (TCS): In your own words, you have 'over 15 years of experience in leading positions within shipping and logistics.' You now find yourself in the role of Business Development Director at Kinay. What can you tell us about the work that you're doing now?

Carl Johan Warfvinge (CJW): Kinay is a very well known shipping and logistics group in Türkiye. Over the years the group has grown globally in freight forwarding, chartering and logistics, and KTL (Kinay Transport & Logistics) now have 30 offices in 11 countries (Türkiye, UK, Belgium, Netherlands, Italy, USA, China, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, Australia), with hopefully more to come.

The company was founded with the agency business at its core. From there, the group has grown organically within Türkiye and is now one of the biggest agencies there. When it comes to physical coverage of the Turkish ports we are number one as we own offices, with our own staff, across the coasts. This enables us to provide the highest possible service, which we are known for, regardless of which port you have a vessel calling at.

But now its time to start pushing these boundaries and focus more on clients coming from abroad whilst building the Kinay brand and ensuring that when foreign clients has a vessel calling in Türkiye, they know who should represent them locally.

Over the last 20 years the industry has changed a lot and we are now seeing port calls being divided between several principals, and as such you also have several agents. In my view, this is, of course, sometimes necessary but many times you just create additional work instead of streamlining the process with one agent – by doing this the principals can save a lot of money on a port call.

As said, the local Turkish shipping industry has been quite unknown to many and therefore many consider this region to be a risk – this is not the case! Reluctancy to embrace working in a new region that is unknown to people is understandable but this is where I come in. I want to bridge the gap and create much needed transparency on how to do business in Türkiye, for clients from other parts of the world. If someone has a problem or is hesitant about anything related to Türkiye – just reach out and I'm happy to assist and guide you in the right direction.

But other than Türkiye, we are also looking at how we can benefit from the synergies we can see from the global expansion by KTL and use this for potential new locations on the agency side. There is a lot of customer overlap across freight forwarding, chartering and agency that I think could be a great benefit to our clients. This sets us apart from other companies because you have a friendly face who is willing to help you navigate the Turkish market, with your best interests at heart, whilst also utilising our vast network of services to make sure you see success with us.

TCS: As you said, Kinay is a Turkish company. Why do you think they chose someone outside of Türkiye to helm their business development? Did Kinay's global, future plans factor into this?

CJW: Well, a lot of the clients in the Turkish agency market are based outside of Türkiye, and as such it makes sense to have someone sitting closer to the principals. Being based in Oslo, Norway I have close and direct access to many European clients, which means I'm able to travel faster to take meetings and discuss future possibilities.

Digitalisation and video meetings are great, but in my opinion, to build a meaningful relationship you need to meet in person, get to know your clients and truly understand their needs. I know people in this industry, which also means that regardless of the company that I'm working with, I can open doors for my network.

With regards to the future plans, my aim is always 'sky's the limit' – so, we have a continuous growth plan that will not stop. People always asked me when I was at Wilhelmsen Group, 'What's your goal? What's your objective?' And I always said world domination, that's always the end game. Regardless of what I do, status quo is not an option.

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Cloud, Sky, Workwear, Asphalt

Photos: Kinay.

TCS: And a lot of the work you've done has been in the Nordic regions. What are the main observations you've made about the Turkish market and where do you see it going in the future?

CJW: I know shipping in Northern Europe very well and I have a good view of the trade flows in the region. So now I'm learning the Turkish way of business and shipping, trying to grasp how enormous shipping actually is in Türkiye. There has been a lot of unrest in the world lately, which has disrupted things and I'm sure it has made people even more risk-averse but working with us in Türkiye should be viewed as an opportunity to embrace change at a time when people are having to adjust their way of work.

A lot has happened in the last couple of years and even more is happening because of the war in Ukraine, with the traffic being reduced in the Bosporus Strait. You also have the resulting changes from the war in Israel, the situation in the Red Sea and so on. These have all had major effects on the trade flows and we have to adapt.

But Türkiye is on the rise and we are seeing new types of cargoes being shipped to/from the region. So, it's a really interesting market and I know a lot of companies are starting to look at Türkiye for future expansion.

TCS: Kinay has humble beginnings, starting out in the small port town of Bandirma in 1946, but under your supervision has set its sights to become a global player as an agency. How do you plan to achieve this?

CJW: Well, as I said before, world domination is always the aim. We need to make use of the unexploited synergies we have. With KTL growing globally we can find many existing customer relations that we can use for the agency business. That said, there is huge potential in the customer overlap across the different companies in the group and we need to ensure our clients get the best of this as well. If we are assisting them with one of our services, why not grow the relationship and handle the whole supply chain together? It's efficient and effective, the best way to do business.

All in all, we are confident that we provide the best possible service for our clients and we want to offer them the potential to work with us in more locations than what we offer today. When we see a possibility to grow together with our clients in a region that makes sense, rest assure we will do it.

When it comes to becoming a global player, right now we have some 3,000 port calls a year with the organic growth that we've had and, of course, we want to grow that even more.

Kinay in Numbers

  • 700+ employees
  • 77+ years experience
  • 13+ companies
  • 33+ offices

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