ALMACO TAKES ON NEW TERRITORIES AND PRODUCT CATEGORIES
Interview with Björn Stenwall, President and CEO of ALMACO Group.
THE MARKET IS NOT EXPECTING A LOT OF NEWBUILD CRUISE PROJECTS IN THE NEAR FUTURE. WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR ALMACO?
We are fortunate enough to have many strong pillars to stand on. Although about 50 % of our newbuild business has traditionally come from building cruise ships, we have other segments where we operate as well. ALMACO has long experience of working with offshore and navy projects and these projects make up roughly around 20 % of our newbuild projects, depending on the year. Smaller vessels, like superyachts, river cruise vessels, RoPax ferries and expedition vessels – segments that we expect to grow the upcoming years – have traditionally made up around 30 % of our newbuild projects.
We expect our already initialized newbuild cruise ship projects to be completed, but when it comes to receiving new newbuilding orders, we think the cruise owners will wait for stronger signs of market recovery before ordering new cruise ships. On the other hand, refurbishment projects and modernization projects will be necessary to keep up with new regulations and to ensure older ships meet the expectations of the passengers.
Another strong pillar is our service and lifecycle support business that has been growing steadily every year. More and more owners prefer to include life cycle contracts in their project orders.
WILL ALMACO’S PRODUCT PORTFOLIO STAY THE SAME OR ARE YOU ADAPTING IT DUE TO THE PANDEMIC?
Our product portfolio is constantly evolving, pandemic or not. But yes, the pandemic has influenced the direction of our product development in three different ways.
First, we are extending our turnkey scope to take on even more responsibility, allowing our customers to be scalable, work faster and with less resources tied up. Our product portfolio now covers all interior accommodation and catering areas, including background works. Thereby, our customers can outsource all interior areas to one single trusted turnkey provider.
Secondly, we have developed a new lifecycle maintenance concept that is more beneficial for the owners. It offers them new ways to minimize risk and hassle, but also increase efficiency and cost savings by implementing flexible plans and automatic and digital solutions.
Thirdly, we have launched a new product category, Health and Sanitation solutions, to help our customers comply to the new standards and regulations now being developed for the industry. Our latest addition is the Genano air decontamination modules that are proven to be effective against the novel Covid-19 virus, but also against other harmful microbes and particles in the air. The health and sanitation solutions that we offer promote long-term health benefits for both the crew and the passengers and help prevent future epidemics onboard or on the rig.
WHAT PROJECTS IS ALMACO WORKING ON RIGHT NOW?
Unfortunately, I am not allowed to reveal the names of most of our current projects. Especially offshore and navy owners tend to want to keep a low profile. Our biggest project right now that I can mention by name is Viking Line’s Glory. The project is moving along very nicely, and the ship just held its virtual launch ceremony. The cabins are ready to be installed and the catering areas are about 60 % complete.
Another ongoing project that I can mention is Vega at the Helsinki shipyard, where ALMACO is in charge of planning and building all the cabins, for both crew and passengers. ALMACO was contracted for the first and second vessels and the projects are expected to be complete in 2022. A few of our ongoing projects are on hold and waiting for green light from the yards and owners.
WHAT CAN ALMACO DO TO HELP THE INDUSTRY RECOVER?
Many of our customers are looking into new business opportunities and to support their development, ALMACO has been arranging customer-specific training webinars. Besides from helping and learning together, it is a way for us to stay tuned and in sync with the needs of our customers.
We see a growing need for digital and automation solutions for project management, operation, and maintenance. ALMACO is focusing heavily on developing our existing and new digital solutions to increase user-friendliness and partially automatize product life cycle management.
Staying close to our customers to ensure our business is developing in the right direction has never been more important. Our target is to become what they need from us right now without forgetting our long-term strategies and goals.
As a last note on this subject, I want to emphasize the importance of helping each other out when we can. A healthy dose of rivalry and competition are essential for the market in the long term, and we all need to strive towards saving not only the industry, but also the diversity of players on the market by being good sports men and women. I like the pie analogy that says we should focus on baking a bigger pie rather than fighting over how to slice it.