Ceva gets an Urbain touch

To say that it’s all change at the Dutch-headquartered Ceva Logistics may sound like an overstatement, but it’s clearly not far from the truth. In the one and a half years since Xavier Urbain took over as CEO he’s turned the business model on its head and is hard at work instilling the mantra of continual process improvement throughout the company. Donald Urquhart reports.

In a short space of just over a year the logistics giant has seen a significant strategic realignment. And that much needed shift has apparently begun paying dividends judging from the fourth quarter results ending January which provided one bright spot in a year that was otherwise pretty dismal, in a market that remained flat.

The first quarter this year continued this positive trend with analysts looking to second quarter results due out by end-July to see if this really is sunlight at the end of the tunnel, or just another freight train rumbling head on.

But with the last two quarters showing some definite promise and Urbain’s strategy still in its infancy, it just might be the early rays of sunshine, but one thing is for sure, already there’s been a new vitality injected into the company.

Driving growth

Ceva has never had a particularly smooth ride, born as it was at the onset of the global financial crisis of 2007-08 by the merger of TNT Logistics and EGL. And indeed it’s most enduring legacy since then has been an ongoing struggle with debt combined with a deadly lethargy of never quite living up to its potential.

After a major recapitalisation and refinancing last year the company was set on a more sustainable path, although significant levels of debt will be the bugbear (an estimated US$400 million in net finance expenses in 2014) for the immediate future.