How Blohm+Voss became fit for the future

After two years of restructuring and the introduction of a new business model, Blohm+Voss is ready for the future. Managing director Ralph Petersen says there is plenty to look forward to

How Blohm+Voss became fit for the future
The shipyard has been a feature of the city of Hamburg, Germany since 1877

This article was first published in the Autumn/Winter 2019 issue of International Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.

Reliable, resilient, buoyant: these three crucial qualities of any seafaring vessel are also amply illustrated by one of the industry’s most distinguished shipbuilders and engineers, Blohm+Voss.

Since its acquisition by family-owned Lürssen in 2016, the company has undergone significant restructuring and transformation efforts at its shipyard in Hamburg, Germany – a change that was difficult but necessary. Now, two years later, it looks like the shipyard has weathered the storm and bounced back leaner and keener than ever.

Through the acquisition of Blohm+Voss, Lürssen has strengthened its portfolio in the area of repair and refit activities for yachts, naval and commercial ships. Lürssen strongly believed in the potential of the shipyard, which has been a landmark of the city of Hamburg since 1877, as well as in its highly skilled and reliable workers who are committed to excellence. In the past two years, the company has heavily invested in the shipyard’s facilities and has set up a new business model focusing on the repair of cruise ships and commercial vessels, the construction of naval vessels, and the repair of yachts over 60 metres in length. This will bring the shipyard back to life after a long phase of neglect.

“Our combined customer base is now stronger than ever and the flexibility that Lürssen offers customers through six different shipyards in Northern Germany is exceptional,” says Ralph Petersen, who joined Blohm+Voss as managing director in January 2018. “Blohm+Voss has become an integral location within the Lürssen group. At our Hamburg shipyard we offer a highly committed team, an excellent infrastructure and a close network of suppliers in what I believe is one of the most beautiful cities in the world.”

Hamburg offers a variety of functions tailored to the maritime industry: the famous port anniversary in May and the Hamburg Cruise Days in September draw tens of thousands of people and hundreds of vessels to Hamburg every year and provide a great opportunity for cruise ship operators to present their fleet.

“Blohm+Voss is located in the middle of the three cruise terminals in Hamburg, making it very efficient for cruise operators to have their passengers disembark at the start of a festival and then go straight to the dock for maintenance work while maintaining a strong presence,” Petersen says. “Through the investments and the new business model, our new owner has created a strong foundation for Blohm+Voss’s future growth. This enables us to react quickly and professionally to the ever-changing demands of the industry and to use state-of-the-art facilities to get the job done. Our customers can count on Blohm+Voss for completing even the most complex projects on time and within budget.”

Blohm+Voss has achieved a lot in the past two years but there is still a lot of work ahead. “Continuous improvement is important for any business to be successful in the long run,” Petersen says. “After establishing the basics, we now need to strengthen our divisions and keep them on track for success – one by one and step by step. We currently have a lot of ships in the yard and the outlook is fairly positive. But we cannot sit back. The most important thing is that we keep the shipyard busy, keep improving and make sure the company stays flexible and fit for the future.’

Success, for any business, depends on its people. A tangible sense of pride and a strong sense of family is something the new owner and Blohm+Voss have in common. “We are a true family business,” Petersen explains. “Friedrich and Peter Lürssen are the fourth generation to run the company. We have employees who are third or fourth generation, where mothers, fathers, sons and daughters are able to share memories. Our employees strongly identify with our products and services. I am amazed and proud to be part of a team that, even after a difficult time of change, has rolled up its sleeves and continues to get the work done. That is what is needed to drive the business into the future.”

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Jacqui Griffiths
By Jacqui Griffiths
11 October 2019

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