Ian Kent is perhaps Australia’s worst retiree. He’s had two goes at it so far, but each time cites boredom as the reason for a return to work. He loves a challenge — which is fortunate, because as CEO of Sadleirs Logistics he’s joined the business at a rather tough time.
“We have an economy that is stalling quite badly,” he says, “and as a result, volume is dropping across the whole network. There are fewer products being moved, because there are fewer consumers. One obvious place we’ve been hit is the resource-dominated parts of the business, particularly Queensland and Western Australia — they have had very sharp downturns in the volumes.
It’s impacted every aspect of those economies — house prices, wages — but it’s impacted us in logistics because there’s physically less product moving.
“In Western Australia in particular, this is because a lot of the volumes have been dominated by construction, not production. The oil and gas projects in the north that are massive projects are coming to an end from a construction perspective. A lot of the iron ore companies — BHP, Rio Tinto, FMG, et cetera — are having dramatic increases in production, which means that a lot of increases in infrastructure are near completion, so there’s a very high incline of ramp-up that’s coming to an end all at the one time. We’re moving into what would be the norm going forward, which is the pure production phase that requires a whole lot less freight, that requires a whole lot fewer people across every part of it, and dramatically so. The West Australian economy is already seeing a dramatic drop-off.”