Meadway Shipping & Trading is celebrating what it sees as a successful start in the Middle East, and its status as a rare Greek dry bulk company that has become an international operator.
The company’s Dubai branch – Meadway Shipipng DMCC – was established in July 2018, eight years after launching its first satellite office in Singapore, with Will Stride as its Managing Director.
Stride was no stranger to Meadway when he was recruited by its boss, Dionysios Dellaportas, to set up its its new office in the United Arab Emirate. A career spanning 14 years at MUR Shipping, and a shorter spell thereafter at Norvic Shipping, led hi, to cross paths with the Greek shipowner and operator many times.
Stride is also familiar with the Middle East, having spent a large portion of his shipping career based in Dubai.
A casual conversation with members of Meadway’s owning family about the opportunities that the Middle East and Africa offered the dry bulk sector led to more formal discussions and, ultimately, a job offer for Stride.
“My argument was that we could replicate in Dubai the success the company has had with its office in Singapore”, he said while hosting one of those lavish parties for which the Emirate is famous.
Stride said Singapore was a turning point for Meadway in its quest to become a truly global operator.
“It allowed them to build relationships with Japanese trading houses and owners, which certainly helped grow the business”, he said.
On the shipowning side, Meadway does not appear especially remarkable. It has 12 owned vessels in the Handymax to Kamsarmax size ranges, with Supramaxes and Ultramaxes forming the core fleet.
However, the owned fleet is only a small part of the overall Meadway operation. At any given time, it has a further 40 vessels on medium or large-term charters, the majority of which have been taken from Japanese owners and are controlled out of Meadway’s office in Singapore.
Meadway’s Dubai operation, with a five-strong chartering team, controls its own book that for now comprises vessels on short-term charters. Its core markets are the Middle East, the Red Sea, South and East Africa, and India, although it does work closely with Greece on the Black Sea and Mediterranean trades.
Stride immediately dismisses the widely held idea that the dry bulk business in the Middle East is largely an inbound, one-way trade. The widespread development of refineries, as well as increased efforts by countries in the region to diversify their economies away from oil, has led to a growing volume of dry commodities being exported, with sulphur, aggregates and alumina being the most prominent.
Countries in South & East Africa are established exporters of coal, chrome and manganese cargoes that are ideally suited to supramaxes and ultramaxes.
Stride appears happy with the performance of Meadway’s Dubai operation so far.
“We were fortunate that the market during the fourth quarter of 2018 was not as high as everyone anticipated so it was easier for us to get in”, he said.
“The market did collapse shortly thereafter but as we had no long-term tonnage, we had no long-term headaches. 2019 is looking fairly positive.“
With the Dubai office now up and running, Stride said his task going forward is to build up the fleet, expand the cargo portfolio and the client base. He stressed that this will be done in conjunction with the overall Meadway strategy. With such an expansion on the horizon, Stride is also keen to build up his team. He hited that a couple more people may be appointed in the near future to handle the growing cargo and fixture volumes.
Jonathan Boonzaier , Tradewinds published on March 22nd, 2019