Digital solutions to drive sustainable growth

Torben Carlsen took over as chief executive of DFDS in 2019, having previously served as chief financial officer. Sandra Speares asks him about his new role and priorities

Digital solutions to drive sustainable growth
Delft Seaways is one of several DFDS ferries operating on the English Channel

As the chief financial officer of DFDS since 2009, Torben Carlsen worked very closely with his predecessor, Niels Smedegaard, and he has been responsible or jointly responsible for all major developments that have shaped the company as it is today. This includes the company’s new Win23 strategy, which outlines four strategic pillars to drive the company’s growth until 2023. “This course will be maintained, and therefore it has been a rather smooth transition to my new role as chief executive,” says Carlsen.

One of Carlsen’s key priorities in his new role has been to put a new executive management team in place to support the company’s updated structure. “This is now done, and we have a strong group management team, which comprises both new people with new ways and very experienced and knowledgeable executives,” he explains.

The implementation of the Win23 strategy is another of Carlsen’s main priorities. “With Win23 we want to grow our business by growing the transport business in certain industries, launching more digital solutions, growing our network ashore and at sea, and increasing the value of our passenger offerings,” he says. “This includes more personalised offers, tour offers and new cruise ferries for the route between Amsterdam, Netherlands and Newcastle, England.”

Preparing for Britain’s exit from the European Union has been top of the to-do list for 2020. “The changes will most likely take effect as of the end of 2020 and though we have come a long way with our preparations, we need to continue communicating with our customers and assisting them in their preparations,” he says. “We also need to continue preparing for the customs formalities that may eventually be introduced and develop our offerings to handle them as a new service for our customers.” DFDS is also preparing to welcome several new ferries in 2021.

“To meet the customers’ demands, we will deploy a new ship especially designed for our important Channel services between England and France in 2021,” says Carlsen. “The ferry will be highly efficient and environmentally friendly with 25% lower oil consumption than Calais Seaways, which it will replace. It will be able to carry 3,100 lane metres of cargo and 1,000 passengers and thus be the largest of our six ships on the Dover Strait. It will give us the flexibility to make room for tax-free shopping, should this become an option.”

In addition, the company is building two combined freight and passenger ferries for the Baltic Sea to sail between Klaipėda in Lithuania and Sweden and Germany. “When they join our fleet towards end of 2021, the new ships will offer increased passenger capacity and greatly enhanced onboard facilities,” says Carlsen.

Like many other ship operators, DFDS is also continuing to increase its environmental sustainability efforts.

“We’re investing in shore power facilities in Oslo [Norway] and Copenhagen [Denmark], which will eliminate the ships’ emission of sulphur oxides while in port,” says Carlsen. “This supports our corporate social responsibility goal of being good neighbours. Shore power will also reduce the emission of carbon dioxide, so it’s also part of our work to reduce our impact on the climate.

“Our sulphur strategy is also being implemented in the Mediterranean, where we are installing scrubbers on the fleet in response to the 2020 global sulphur regulation. In addition to this, we are investing in MASH Energy, which develops biofuel to help create a commercially viable and carbon-neutral alternative to fossil fuel.”

This article was first published in the Spring/Summer 2020 issue of Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.

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By Sandra Speares
13 July 2020

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