Breakbulk revival in Antwerp: preface to all the stories

Preface - Thanks to the excellent relations among breakbulk players, there are many strong, inspiring stories to be found in and around the port of Antwerp. You will find them in this dossier 'Revival of breakbulk in Antwerp: dream or opportunity?'

In a few months from now when we wish each other "Happy New Year" and "Best Wishes" these traditional greetings will have an altogether more serious note. The coronavirus epidemic has taught us all how important health can be, and how fragile. The past few months have also demonstrated just how unpredictable a year can be.

In April we were looking forward to meeting the many good breakbulk friends and colleagues at AntwerpXL. We hoped to further consolidate and expand our breakbulk activities in a world economy that was already very complex without a pandemic. Like everyone else we hoped to develop our business, large or small, and enjoy success.

Half a year later, after the outbreak in Europe, we know better. Covid not only turned our everyday lives upside down, it was also a blow to our economic model. Once again it demonstrated that the sectors which suffer most in difficult economic times are the ones which are already struggling. Things are no different for the breakbulk sector.

Yet it is very encouraging to see entrepreneurs with such great resilience, especially in Port of Antwerp. Entrepreneurs who instead of falling into self-pity make a virtue out of necessity in order to re-think their business model or turn it around. Sometimes with excellent results.

Breakbulk has always been a "people business", where everything depends on trust and contacts. Thanks to this trust and these excellent relations among breakbulk players, even in these times of coronavirus, there are many strong, inspiring stories to be found in and around the port of Antwerp. You will find them in this magazine.

It is still too soon for New Year wishes. Or perhaps not. Together with you I hope we can put a disturbing year quickly behind us. May we draw the lessons from 2020 and build on them in 2021, making further progress along the path of innovation, collaboration and confidence in the breakbulk sector. Hopefully AntwerpXL 2021 will be a symbolic moment at which we can at last greet one another safely again, to once more give our sector the human aspect that it deserves.

Bart Timperman

These are all the articles in the dossier ‘Breakbulk’:
Catrien Scheers: “Covid-19 will never undermine my faith in breakbulk”
Zimmer Staal operating at full capacity at terminal operator Euroports
Rollit Cargo anticipates growth in wind turbine market
Victrol carries bridges, machines and parts for offshore wind farms
Corona crisis confirms need for digital breakbulk platform
Biggest lifting job in Port of Antwerp in many years by Mammoet
Muriel Marquet (HSL): “Breakbulk is our core business”
Rail&Sea: "Big increase in combined breakbulk and container"
CJ-ICM Logistics: “We do the craziest things”
Wallenius Wilhelmsen Solutions invests in resources for breakbulk
Oldest port company Stukwerkers sees the sector changing rapidly
Van der Vlist Belgium expands its European hub at Zeebrugge
Jacques Vandermeiren: “Antwerp and breakbulk, a hole-in-one”