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Top 25 Global Freight Forwarders


Largest Providers by 2012 Gross Revenues and Freight Forwarding Volumes*






 (US$ Millions)






Metric Tons

A&A Provider Information and Editorial Comments


DHL Supply Chain & Global Forwarding




DHL Supply Chain (DSC) is by far the world's largest 3PL and contract logistician. Contract logistics revenues account for just over 50% of total revenues. Contract logistics revenues for Exel (DHL Supply Chain - Americas) are $4.5 billion with 468 warehouses and 109 million square feet of space. Exel/DSC has operations of virtually every kind on every continent. Current major initiatives involve further expansion in pharmaceuticals. There are major sustainability and environmental efforts. Brazil and Mexico already have large, high quality operations. DHL Global Forwarding (DGF) grew through the acquisition of highly respected companies like Danzas. DHL and Danzas are strong brands in Europe and Asia. DGF currently has 31 global carrier partners with 81 contracts on a multitude of trade lanes and more than 330 gateway facilities. Its annual volume is 2.8 million TEUs and its LCL is 2 million cubic meters. There are more than 45,000 weekly point pairs for LCL globally. DGF handles 2.2 million shipments annually. DHL's scope allows its customers to more easily adjust vendor supply chains.



Kuehne + Nagel




Kuehne + Nagel is one of the world's leading logistics companies providing services at more than 1,000 locations in over 100 countries. It has strong market positions in the sea freight, air freight, contract logistics and overland businesses, with a clear focus on providing IT-based integrated logistics solutions. With the addition of the ACR group, contract logistics operations more than doubled in 2006 and are 50% of net revenues. The industry breakdown for its contract logistics operations is: Retail 35%, Healthcare 22%, Technological/Telecom 18%, Chemicals 7%, Automotive 6%, Fulfillment 5%, Misc. 5% and Services 2%. Kuehne + Nagel’s North American logistics network totals 12 million square feet of space across 50 DCs. There are 11 DCs in Canada (located in Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, and Edmonton), 30 single- and multi-client DCs in the U.S., six facilities in Mexico, and four Mexican border locations for transborder/customs services. Americas business for Kuehne + Nagel is 16% of net revenues. Net revenue was $1 billion in 2012 for the Americas with over 50% from freight forwarding. Kuehne + Nagel has developed its own land transport management and trucking network for Europe. In 2011, the globally operating Kuehne + Nagel maintained its growth momentum in a challenging market environment and achieved good results. Net earnings were slightly above the previous year and reached CHF 606 million – a new record high. In 2011 and 2012, Kuehne + Nagel has outpaced the volume growth of the market in all its fields of activity. Sea freight and air freight business units again led the way. In both areas, high internal productivity and strict cost management compensated for the costs of investments made in technology and product development and strengthening of niche segments. Leveraging its forwarding and contract logistics capabilities, Kuehne + Nagel has built good global spare parts logistics and cold chain/pharmaceutical capabilities.



DB Schenker Logistics




DB Schenker made significant purchases from 2006 to 2008 to double the size of its operations. The purchases include BAX in 2006, Spain-Tir in 2007 and Romtrans in 2008. Romtrans was the largest forwarding company in Romania with $140 million in revenue and 1,500 employees. Operations go as far east as Georgia. Spain-Tir had over 700 trucks and 16 million square feet of warehousing space covering the Iberian Peninsula. BAX added significant North American and Asian capacity. German operations, including Europe’s largest rail freight and trucking operations, are over 70% of total revenues. DB Schenker’s European trucking by land transport has over 24,000 employees/owneroperators and handled 95 million shipments in 2012. Russian and Eastern European operations are substantial. DB Schenker is significantly expanding its contract logistics operations adding over $100 million of new business in 2012. Dave Bouchard leads the Americas effort. North American contract logistics operations are 42% Consumer Goods, 30% High-Tech, 16% Industrial and 12% Automotive.







For many years, Sinotrans Limited was completely protected by People’s Republic of China law from direct foreign competition until recently. In some ways it is a very transparent company. Just over 80% of revenues are derived from freight forwarding. Sinotrans handled over 8.2 million TEUs of sea freight, 417,200 metric tons of air freight and 16.9 million international express documents/packages in 2012. (TEUs shown are a combination of freight forwarding, NVOCC, booking agent and custom broker activities.) Sinotrans is a joint stock limited company incorporated in the People’s Republic of China on November 20, 2002 with China National Foreign Trade Transportation Corporation (“Sinotrans Group Company”) as its sole promoter. The Company was listed successfully on The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited on February 13, 2003. The Group’s core services are freight forwarding and shipping agency services with support services such as storage and terminal services, marine transportation, trucking and express.






Panalpina is a top 10 freight forwarder. It handles more than 1.3 million TEUs per year, more than 800,000 metric tons of air freight and about 1 million tons of non-containerized break bulk cargo. It has 242 sub-contracted warehouses in 150 countries. Panalpina concentrates on nine verticals/segments: Automotive, Chemicals, Consumer Retail, Fashion, Healthcare, High-Tech, Manufacturing, Oil & Gas, and Telecommunications. Telecom growth was major in 2007. Its Oil & Gas operations are primarily in project logistics, which accounts for 10% to 15% of Panalpina's revenues.



Nippon Express




Nippon Express covers Japan. It's Japan's largest domestic transportation company and its Pelican Express operation is the largest package operation in Japan. About 80% of Nippon's revenues are from domestic Japanese operations. Its international operations in forwarding and contract logistics are tied to its Japanese base. In addition to truck-based operations, Nippon provides harbor and ship transportation, air freight forwarding and warehousing. Its warehousing is tied to its freight forwarding operations. The major question for Nippon is how much will it grow internationally?


CEVA Logistics




CEVA Logistics is a top 10 ranked global logistics company and is the world’s largest automotive 3PL. It has a heavy emphasis on manufacturing and is expanding operations in other sectors. Its industry sectors are Automotive 28%, Consumer/Retail 23%, Technology 20%, Industrial 17%, Energy 7% and Other 5%. CEVA operates in over 160 countries. The CEVA operations we have visited get top marks. CEVA is very good at value-added support activities. Its Matrix software suite reflects its range of logistics capabilities, including materials management. CEVA’s core services include fulfillment centers, high-velocity cross-docks, sub-assembly, sequencing, dedicated contract transportation, and network designs/redesigns. Its revenue is split between Contract Logistics (54%) and Freight Management (46%). The Americas account for 30% of its revenues, Asia Pacific 29%, Northern Europe 24% and Southern Europe, Middle East and Africa account for the rest. Private equity owner, Apollo Management, acquired EGL Eagle Global Logistics which was rebranded as CEVA Freight Management in 2007. EGL added global freight forwarding to match CEVA’s high quality value-added warehousing, materials management and other contract logistics capabilities. In 2008, CEVA introduced its Century Partnership Account Program for 100 of its key customers selected by its Executive Board. These accounts have a global scope and represent more than half of CEVA’s total business. Apollo has restructured CEVA's debt burden to give it some breathing room.



Expeditors International of Washington




Expeditors is the largest North American-based freight forwarder. Net revenues are $1.8 billion and produce a gross margin of 31%. Net revenues are 34% air freight, 42% customs brokerage and 24% ocean freight. U.S. and Asia business account for 76% of revenues. Expeditors is the largest forwarder/NVOCC in the Asia/U.S. lane. It handles over 860,000 TEUs per year globally. Nearly 50% are shipped from Asia to the U.S. Expeditors’ European operations are primarily in air freight and constitute about 13% of revenues. Expeditors net revenues run 40% high-tech, 33% retail, 10% pharmaceuticals, 10% automotive, 5% furniture and 2% other. Expeditors limits its participation in value-added warehousing and distribution.


UPS Supply Chain Solutions




UPS is the 800 lb. gorilla of global supply chain services. Revenues for contract logistics were $2 billion in 2012. Net freight forwarding/NVOCC/customs brokerage revenues were $4.7 billion. UPS SCS had a profitable year in 2012. UPS SCS contributes $2 billion+ per year in package business to its big brother. UPS handles about 500,000 TEUs per year as a freight forwarder. Twelve percent of containers are LCL consolidations; 40% are Asia-U.S. Forwarding revenues are 60% air and 40% ocean. UPS has 1,400 employees involved in customs brokerage: 400 in Aiken, SC, 250 in Cleveland, OH, and 750 in Louisville, KY. UPS' DCC was built from the purchases of Rollins and Overnite. More than 95% of its power units are assigned to specific customers. Average length of trip is about 400 miles. Customer operations range from 10 to 100 trucks. UPS has redesigned its supply chain operations to concentrate on high-tech, medical and some retail/consumer goods customers. These operations are highly integrated between value-added and package delivery services. Revenues per employee run $175,000 to $180,000.



SDV (Bolloré Group)




Bolloré Groups logistics business consists of SDV, a France-based transportation and freight forwarding company, which generates 55% of revenue and Bolloré Africa Logistics, a major stevedoring company in Africa, which generates the remainder of logistics revenue. Bolloré Africa Logistics, which has been in Africa for over 50 years, has 250 subsidiaries, about 25,000 employees and operates in 43 countries. SDV is ranked #1 in France by the IATA and #5 in Europe. It operates in 99 countries with a large footprint in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas. SDV USA has 15 branches in major U.S. cities and 475 employees.






DSV is primarily a non-asset operation. EBITS are 5%. Nearly half of its operations are European over-the-road, its Air & Sea division makes up about 42% and Solutions (logistics) accounts for the rest. The DSV Group is Denmark’s second largest supplier of transport and logistics services. The Group originates in the Nordic countries but has established its own operations in more than 70 countries in Europe, the Far East and the Americas. Via professional and advantageous overall solutions, a worldwide yearly turnover of €6 billion is realized by the Group’s 22,000 employees.


Kintetsu World Express




Kintetsu World Express' (KWE) largest operations within its global network are in Japan and China, with over 100 offices located in each of those countries. Nearly 57% of its business is air freight based. Ocean freight and logistics account for about 33%. Globally KWE handles over 1 million metric tons of air freight and over 550,000 TEUs of ocean freight annually. KWE has a host of strategic joint ventures and affiliated companies. Its primary verticals are automotive, high-tech, and healthcare. It has 138 logistics warehouses outside Japan, with 6.4 million square feet (warehouse space in Japan is over 2.6 million square feet). Fifty-eight of those warehouses are in China. Japan generates 40% of the business, the rest of Asia and Oceania generate 39%, North America 12%, Europe and other regions account for the rest. KWE listens to the “Voice of the Customer” and promotes long-term collaborative business partnerships. It’s a quality management success story.







Agility has expanded its business dramatically from its warehousing base in Kuwait. It is a Middle Eastern leader in integrated supply chain solutions and is organized into two major business groups. Global Integrated Logistics (GIL) is the largest generating approximately 83% of Agility’s revenues. The majority of GIL’s revenues (just under 90%) are generated outside of the U.S. It has core competencies in freight forwarding, contract logistics/warehousing, project logistics, fairs & events, and supply chain management 3PL services. Agility provides 3PL services tailored to governments, relief agencies and international institutions worldwide. These services included extensive warehousing and trucking operations in Kuwait to support U.S. Department of Defense distribution needs in the region. The other business unit is Agility's Infrastructure Group including its Real Estate business, which draws on local insights from Agility’s global network to identify real estate and private equity opportunities in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.



Pantos Logistics




Pantos Logistics has a full set of tools including air and ocean freight forwarding, rail and road transportation in Korea, warehousing, customs, and express transportation. (DCC assets in South Korea only.) Customers include Korean based companies like LG and internationals like Philips. Pantos is a good international supply chain manager with a large freight forwarding base (1.8 million TEUs and 231,000 air freight metric tons).


C.H. Robinson




C.H. Robinson continues to be the most profitable tier-one 3PL regularly achieving net income margins greater than 20%. C.H. Robinson dominates domestic transportation management in North America. While 75% of Robinson’s net revenues are truck transportation related, it has solid domestic intermodal, international air and ocean, food sourcing and supply chain management. C.H. Robinson's purchase of Phoenix International has doubled its ocean freight operations to 500,000 TEUs. It has also been expanding its TMC operations which focus on large transportation network management. The TMC is now serving the Americas, Europe and Asia. Employees are highly incented to take care of customers. C.H. Robinson’s Canadian operations developed quickly and it has become a strong player with eight offices for freight brokerage, six for forwarding and three for produce. European operations have also been successful, profitable and expanding in Poland and the Eastern Bloc. They are a natural fit for Europe’s atomized owner-operator based companies. Asian operations continue to grow. Robinson acquired offices in India and continues to make careful purchases of companies with specializations. It has the cash flow to make more. C.H. Robinson's IT and business processes are tightly coordinated. Reporting capabilities provide good operating and profitability control. Ongoing modifications include much stronger and friendlier carrier/capacity management.


Hellmann Worldwide Logistics




Hellmann Worldwide Logistics is a privately held German company which continues to be competitive against the big guys. It has good freight forwarding and contract logistics operations. Air and Sea freight are just over half of the business. Coverage in Asia and China is extensive. Its regional breakdown is Europe 56% (Germany 45%), Asia 15%, the Americas 19% (U.S. 12%), and Oceania, Middle East and Africa 10%.







Damco is a third-party logistics provider specializing in customized freight forwarding and supply chain solutions. The company has 11,300 employees in over 300 offices across 90 countries and agents in 30 more countries. In 2012, the company had a net turnover of $3.3 billion, managed more than 2.7 million TEUs in ocean freight and supply chain management volumes, and air freighted more than 210,000 metric tons. Damco is part of the A.P. Moller - Maersk Group.



Kerry Logistics




Kerry Logistics' business portfolio encompasses contract logistics, international freight forwarding, warehousing, transportation, distribution, trading, merchandising and a wide variety of value-added services and is now managing over 32 million square feet of warehouse space, logistics centers and port facilities globally. Its Integrated Logistics division, mainly value-added warehousing and distribution, generates 41% of revenue and its International Freight Forwarding division generates 59%. Kerry Logistics handles 804,000 TEUs of ocean freight and 289,000 metric tons of air freight annually. Kerry EAS Logistics, the brand name of Kerry Logistics in Mainland China, continues to provide high-quality logistics and solutions to customers in three major areas: freight forwarding, express parcel delivery and contract logistics.


UTi Worldwide




UTi's net revenues decreased nearly 7% last year. UTi’s contract logistics and distribution operations are 55% of net revenues. UTi has strong forwarding operations in Asia with an emphasis on air freight and a major drug distribution operation in South Africa. It is expanding its contract logistics operations in Asia particularly in India, which it has designated for major market expansion. UTi’s roots are in South Africa and it does very well in British Commonwealth countries. It has a major North American effort underway to expand its domestic transportation management operations.



Yusen Logistics




Yusen does not have the kind of strong domestic base in Japan that characterizes Nippon and others. It has aggressively grown international markets and expanded through organic growth and acquisitions. It started in 2001 by combining purchases and adding a transportation and warehouse network to expanding contract logistics and air freight operations. Contract logistics and distribution are strong in Europe. In the Americas, seven companies have been combined to create a broad suite of logistics services offered in North, Central and South America. Automotive, industrial and retail/consumer goods verticals are emphasized. Its automotive logistics includes roll-on/roll-off, JIT and parts distribution. Nippon Cargo Air is now an NYK owned entity and Americas has its own air freight forwarding capability. Japan, Europe and the Americas each account for about 22% of the business, South Asia and Oceania make up 18% and East Asia makes up the remaining 16%.



Toll Holdings




Toll’s revenues are 70% Australia based where Toll has one of everything in logistics. Toll’s mission is to be the most successful provider of integrated solutions to the Asian region providing customers with global reach. Its largest vertical industry is Retail/Food & Beverage at 32% of total revenues. Sixty percent of SembCorp was acquired in 2006 by Toll which owns Australia’s largest trucking and distribution operations. SembCorp is one of the largest logistics providers in Asia. SembCorp has extensive Asian operations (16 countries) and a sizeable joint venture (St. Anda) in China. Its revenues are split as follows: Northern Asia 53%, Southeast Asia 41% and Other 6%. In March 2008, Toll took over BALtrans, a large intra-Asian freight forwarder with operations to the United States and Europe. Toll has rebranded BALtrans as Toll Global Forwarding. In February 2010, Toll acquired Summit Logistics International to integrate it into Toll Global Forwarding and expand its capabilities in the Greater China to U.S. trade lane.






Geodis is France's largest provider of transportation and logistics services and is one of the top European 3PLs. With third-party logistics revenues of $5.9 billion and 15,000 employees, Geodis Group covers more than 120 countries worldwide through its subsidiaries including Geodis Logistics, Geodis Wilson, and Geodis Supply Chain Optimisation (which grew out of its December 2008 acquisition of IBM’s internal global logistics operations). Most of the Group’s revenue is European based and accounts for 83% (France 53%) of total revenue. Geodis Group’s service portfolio has significant coverage in Europe where it has five core businesses: groupage (parcel delivery/LTL express), truckload, contract logistics, freight forwarding and supply chain optimization. Freight forwarding is its largest business segment generating 27% of revenue. In Europe, Geodis’ industry segment 3PL revenue breakdown is FMCG/Retail 42%, Automotive 17%, High‐Tech 16%, Industrial 11%, Healthcare 4%, Textiles 3% and Other 7%. Geodis purchased TNT’s freight forwarder (Wilson) in late 2006. Wilson added significant new coverage for Germany, China, Australia, New Zealand, North America and South America. Geodis is expanding its penetration in the North American market through acquisitions including IBM and One Source Logistics. There are 18 offices including two for its chemicals specialist operation, Rohde & Liesenfeld. It relies on a strategic alliance with International Paper’s xpedx.






Logwin, formerly Thiel, is a conglomerate that acquired Birkart, Microlog and other companies. Logwin has subsidiaries for automotive, fashion/lifestyle/media and furniture. Nearly 70% of its revenue is Germany and Austria based. Logwin has two business segments: Solutions (contract logistics) and Air + Ocean. Its Road + Rail business segment was discontinued in 2009. Solutions generates 52% of the business and Air + Ocean accounts for 48%. Air + Ocean handled 500,000 ocean TEUs and 155,000 air freight metrics tons in 2012.







Sankyu is an asset based, Japanese 3PL with a strong presence in the Asian market as well as operations in Europe, USA and Brazil. Although Sankyu still does a significant amount of project logistics, the main revenue from its logistics division is from the automotive, chemicals, consumer goods and retailing verticals. Its logistics business unit generates 54% of Sankyu's total company revenue.


BDP International




BDP is a leading freight forwarder with a strong emphasis on chemicals. Its operations are high quality. BDP handles customs brokerage for Dow Chemical and DuPont on about 600,000 containers a year.

*Revenues are company reported or Armstrong & Associates, Inc. estimates and have been converted to US$ using the average exchange rate in order to make non-currency related growth comparisons.  Freight forwarders are ranked using a combined overall average based on their individual rankings for gross revenue, ocean freight TEUs and air freight metric tons.

**TEUs shown are a combination of freight forwarding, NVOCC, booking agent and custom broker activities.

Copyright © 2014 Armstrong & Associates, Inc.

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Last modified: 10/09/14