On 18 April, the Korean Register (KR) held its first technical seminar in Hamburg, Germany.
The event which attracted more than fifty professionals from across the industry coincided with the relocation of KR's branch office to its new location in the Baltic Carrée, Hafencity, Hamburg – reflecting the importance of the German market to the classification society.
Established in 1960, KR has grown from a humble beginning when Korea as a nation had just 11 shipping companies with a total fleet of 39 vessels with a combined gross tonnage of barely more than 100,000 and KR's first class survey was for a 1,048-ton bulk carrier.
Today, KR classes an international fleet of more than 3,000 vessels totaling 70 million GT, and with a network of 68 branch offices and 1,000 employees around the world. The society is authorized to perform statutory and certification services in 78 countries.
KR established its Hamburg office in 1997, the fourth oldest in KR's network across Europe. In the early days, KR's business activities were focused on providing equipment surveys for Korean flagged newbuilding projects. Now KR classes a German fleet of almost 2 million GT with many prestigious German clients including Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement, Oldendorff Carriers, Liberty Blue Shipmanagement, NSC Shipping, Lubeca Marine, Briese Schiffahrt and many more. Having such large clients has helped KR to build its presence in overseas markets, demonstrating the value of KR's quality driven services to the international maritime industry.
Michael Suhr, the technical and commercial director of KR Hamburg GmbH is a good example of KR's localization strategy. Traditionally, KR has only hired foreign nationals as surveyors, but in 2016 Michael was the first foreign employee recruited to lead KR's business development and technical support across Northern Europe. General Manager Mr. Byung-sun Min, Managing Director of KR Hamburg GmbH and Michael Suhr provide transparent, fair and impartial advice, delivering a quick turnaround for urgent assessment and verification requests, as a result KR's German business growth has been remarkable. Client numbers continue to grow and revenue has increased by 340% since the office's establishment.
Michael Suhr said: "We will continue to work hard to increase our market share in Germany, believing that more customers would appreciate our reliable high-quality service and quick response times."
Reflecting the importance of the German market, in 2017 KR opened a new site office in Frankfurt to provide specific equipment and industry services, at the same time the Hamburg office was upgraded from a branch office to KR Hamburg GmbH and KR St. Petersburg and KR Lisbon were brought under its governance.
The technical seminar on 18 April shows how important Germany is to KR's business operations. The event included specialist presentations on; 'The latest news on the global sulphur cap', 'The status of the Korean shipbuilding industry' and 'New bulk carrier design' all delivered by KR's knowledge experts. It also included a lecture from Mr. Christof Schwaner, Director, Communications & Digitalization, German Shipowners Association, presenting 'Ten theses on digital transportation in merchant shipping' which offered valuable insight into the latest digital transformations taking place across the shipping industry.
Byung-sun Min, the head of KR Hamburg GmbH said; "This technical seminar was a very special event, showcasing our capabilities and the resources that are available, ready to support our German clients. It also offered a great opportunity to demonstrate how very important the German market is to KR."
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