A-List Insights is an interview series where we talk with industry thought leaders and experts about different topics surrounding logistics and supply chain – gathering their insights and experience firsthand.
In this segment we feature Petra Åkerblom, Senior Customer Service & Logistics Manager at The Absolut Company, part of Pernod Ricard, a leading global wine & spirits manufacturer. Petra has been with the company for 20 years, holding several positions across the logistics and procurement functions.
Petra leads the logistics customer service team and is responsible for freight procurement for Absolut and Malibu (another Pernod Ricard brand). She is also a core member of the company’s Freight Board Council, which handles freight procurement for the whole Pernod Ricard group.
This is the third of a 5-part series interview with Petra. To provide context to the current climate, the entire interview was conducted in September 2020, during the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic.
Finding more sustainable solutions. It’s really hard. When it comes to trucks, in Sweden, it’s easier. But thinking about ocean freight, we are like 12,000 TEUs [twenty-foot equivalent unit of cargo capacity], so it’s not huge. Our yearly shipments wouldn’t even fill up one of the big ships. Trying to make a difference there is hard when you’re not big.
That’s why I’m thinking, what I can do is start looking at the service they [carriers] are providing and the routing. I can compare, for example, if Hapag [carrier Hapag-Lloyd] has a transit time that is 5 days shorter than another carrier, maybe the CO2 will be lower. Then I can choose them because it will mean a better impact to the environment in the long run. When it comes to sea, it’s really hard finding good solutions.
Of course. For us, we are trying to ship as much as possible through the port of Åhus for sustainability and security reasons. We have a small port, about 200 meters from the warehouse, where the feeder vessel comes into the terminal.
Today, about 90% of our containers go out from Åhus. It’s not a hub, it’s not the center of the world, but it is the center of our world. There are not a lot of imports going to that port which is why all the containers need to be empty positioned to Åhus. We are working mainly with the shipping lines directly. We have some small contracts with forwarders, but considering we are in Åhus, and we are really depending on the shipping lines getting those containers there [to Åhus], we decided to work directly with the shipping lines instead of having a forwarder in-between.
We are fortunate enough to have shipping lines that are really walking the extra mile for us. So, I would say that yes, we have some problems with equipment and space sometimes, but not as much as expected because we have carriers that are supporting us.
I think so, and I think that as we are treating them fair, we always try to be very kind, very honest, open and loyal, we get loyalty back. We truly believe in long-term relationships and they know that we don’t kick them out because of $10. We really treat them as important partners, and I think they feel that.
I also have the privilege to work with the best team ever. My colleagues are great and put an honor in being convivial and customer service minded. I think the carriers notice this and I think they enjoy working with us too. So together with the carriers we are a great team. We solve everything together.