The Shipping & Forwarding Agent
Cast your mind back to the 60’s. On every street corner was a little shop. Usually a one man band, an independent. Then along came the supermarkets; Tesco, Sainsbury, Asda, Safeway and the corner shops started to disappear. Then came the hypermarkets and even more corner shops vanished.
Now we have half a dozen or so, huge operations and just a small residue of the one man band, independent shops.
Something similar happened in Shipping.
In shipping, at that time, exports were shipped conventionally; i.e. in the holds of vessels. There were thousands of small independent Shipping and Forwarding agents. They performed numerous tasks on behalf of their customers; preparation of documentation, collection of goods from customers premises, delivery to the docks, customs entries, payment of charges up front, customs clearance of import cargo and delivery of goods.
Then along came Containerisation and the role of the Agent was changed. Shipping Companies started to undertake many of these functions themselves .Customs requirements became simplified. The traditional role of the Forwarding Agent started to diminish.
Of course many agents obviously survived and indeed prospered. The nature of exporting and importing was changing, the methods used were constantly developing and Forwarding agents worth their salt changed and developed at the same time. Containerisation didn’t spell the end for agents , just a different way of doing things. Some got involved in the growing market of airfreight .Some developed their own transport operations not only throughout the U.K but Europe as well. Some expanded their operations by opening offices in other parts of the U.K. and indeed throughout the world. They developed their own network of services specialising in particular countries. They developed their own versions of EDI. They signed up to email and ecommerce.
Today we have a hardcore of huge multi national forwarding agent...