Why Seven Seas has kept its war chest closed

When US company Supreme acquired Norwegian Seven Seas in 2014, the growth ambitions were unmistakable, but since then things have been relatively quiet. CEO Theo Reichert explains why in an interview with ShippingWatch.

Copyright OW Bunker A/S
Photo: OW Bunker

When US-based Supreme Group purchased Norwegian supply company EMS Seven Seas, now Seven Seas, back in the summer of 2014, the ambitions were clear. Seven Seas was to become a market leader by the end of 2017, and Supreme had the capital on hand to succeed in this endeavor, which Danish Lars Rosenkrands was hired to handle as CEO shortly thereafter.

Since then things have been pretty calm for Seven Seas. Lars Rosenkrands has left the company and, meanwhile, competitor Wrist Ship Supply accelerated its acquisitions last year into the beginning of 2016, significantly increasing its global footprint. Industry sources tell ShippingWatch that Seven Seas has yet to perform acquisitions, even though this was a significant part of the company's strategy aimed at realizing the ambition of becoming a market leader.

For this reason, observers estimate that Seven Seas is not currently considered quite as big of a threat to Wrist Ship Supply, for instance, as back when Supreme acquired the Norwegian company, when CEO Theo Reichert stated the following:

Seven Seas breakaway launches new supply company

"We are prepared to make investments to ensure EMS Seven Seas becomes the global leader in commercial ship supply within three years, and we look forward to working closely with their teams around the world to make this happen, merging our organizations to leverage operational synergies to their fullest potential."

Seven Seas.jpg
Photo: Seven Seas

Seven Seas' new branch in Den Helder, Netherlands. Photo: Seven Seas

In December 2015 Theo Reichert took over the top job at Seven Seas, and he tells ShippingWatch today that acquisitions have been considered part of the strategy but not the core strategy.

"We are still having our eyes open and considering potential acquisition targets. However, our first priority has been to ensure Seven Seas offers the best service levels to our customers, across all our branches and business units," he writes in an e-mail to ShippingWatch.

"We have been working hard in standardizing our offers and services and streamlining our operations, so that we can truly be seen as one global company, instead of a sum of different regional companies."

Checking previous acquisitions

Theo Reichert does not directly respond to the questions about how much capital the company has for acquisitions, nor about how long Seven Seas can afford to wait before beginning the strategy to keep up with key competitor Wrist Ship Supply. He does not think that the two companies are comparable. Wrist has had many years to standardize its business as the equity fund Altor bought the company in 2007, he points out:

"We have started it (the process -ed.) at the beginning of 2015. So it is really difficult to make comparisons between both companies," notes Theo Reichert.

Instead of new acquisitions, Seven Seas has spent time implementing systems which, he explains, are meant to consolidate acquisitions from before, which were never fully integrated into the company. This is necessary before embarking on new acquisitions, he says. Another priority has been focus on employees.

When Supreme bought the company in 2014, the takeover caused concern among many staff members who wondered why the CEO at the time, Toril Eidesvik, did not get a chance to complete the restructuring that she was working on. Others worried that values such as openness between management and employees would be lost in the US culture of top-down management.

"We wanted to bring some stability to our employees, to create a unified culture. We want our people to feel like they are part of a global company, no matter where they sit in the world. That is why we are so enthusiastic about our new Seven Seas brand and how it was received so positively by customers and employees," says Theo Reichert.

"One year and half later, we can definitely say we are in the right track and that we are a much stronger company. There is still some work to do, but the positive customer feedback and the constant increase of sales volumes says it all."

2015 was a record year for Wrist Ship Supply

The new CEO of EMS Seven Seas presents his agenda

Supreme: We will retain and develop the entire EMS

EMS Seven Seas' CEO on the way out

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