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25/8/2008
The forwarding services sector continues to grow
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The forwarding services sector consists of companies whose responsibility is to organize and execute transportation projects without necessarily owning or managing the required transportation means. More explicitly, the aim of forwarding companies is to coordinate a transportation project in the most efficient way possible, and this often involves combining more than one transportation medium.

The development of forwarding companies is directly linked to the demand for freight transport and the factors which directly affect this demand are related to the industrial and commercial activity, to the amount of imports and exports, to the level of freights and fuels, and to the customs-related processes and costs (for countries outside the European Union). Moreover, a country’s transportation infrastructure significantly affects the level of provided services, whereas the demand for forwarding services also greatly depends on whether the commercial and industrial companies have their own fleet of transportation vehicles.

Based on the results of the sector study, the total domestic market for forwarding services grew overtime between 2001 and 2006, portraying an average growth rate of 8% per annum. More specifically, the assessed market appears to have portrayed an increase of 4% in 2006 in relation to 2005. According to the data collected from sector companies, this growth rate formed at 9.6% in 2007.

As regards the breakdown of the forwarding services market per medium during the period 2004-2007, road freight forwarding services continue to dominate the sector with a share between 58% and 64% (in terms of value). The share of sea transportation varied between 11%-14% during the same period, whereas forwarding services by rail ranged between 10% and 12%. Finally, forwarding services by air accounted for 13%-17% during 2004-2007.

This sector is characterized by the existence of a large number of companies and an intense competition among them. Furthermore, market insiders forecast a reduction of the number of companies along with an increased concentration through mergers and acquisitions. Also, it is estimated that forwarding companies will increasingly provide logistics services, given that their clients are now looking for more integrated solutions. As regards the development of the domestic forwarding market for 2008 according to the current conditions and trends, industry insiders believe that its total value shall increase by the order of 5%.

For the purposes of this study, a financial analysis was carried out using a representative number of companies. A consolidated balance sheet of 76 companies for which there was available financial data for the period 2005-2006 was also drawn up. The results of the assessment show that the total assets of the above companies increased (13.65%) in 2006 relation to 2005. Total equity also increased, by 4.81%, compared to the previous year. On the contrary, total sales fell (10.58%) in relation to 2005. The gross margin increased by 12.10% and the operating margin also grew, by 7.96%. Finally, the total net results of assessed companies in 2006 increased by 2.38% compared to 2005.
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