Ferry Business - Spring/Summer 2018

International Cruise & Ferry Review Ferry Business 94 Customers expect great quality and value for money when dining onboard P&O’s ferries anette Bell may be new to the position of CEO at P&O Ferries, but during her six years with the UK-based company she has gained a keen sense of its heritage, challenges and potential. “This is one of the most exciting times of my career and a fascinating part of P&O Ferries’ history,” says Bell, who took the helm when Helen Deeble stepped down in December 2017. “It’s fairly well documented that we placed the order for the Spirit- class ships just before the financial crash happened, but we were able to bring those ferries into the business and trade through the recession which severely hit our freight business. We’ve been able to stabilise and grow the business, which gives us the confidence to look forward and see the opportunities out there. Now we’re looking to invest in growth for the future.” Today, the 2018 refit programme is high on Bell’s agenda. “We’ve got exciting plans for our North Sea vessels,” she says. “Last year we refurbished the two ships on the Zeebrugge route and this year we have some great plans for the Europoort overnight ships. We’ll be upgrading our club class cabins and adding more, because we see increasing demand from our customers for more of a premium touch on the overnight crossings.” Equal focus is given to marketing the combined heft of P&O Ferries and the P&O Ferrymasters logistics arm. “We’re lucky to have both the Ferries and the Ferrymasters division within the company,” says Bell. “We’re proud to have some incredible assets within our portfolio that are the envy of many others. We sit within the Dubai World investment group which has even more enviable assets, and in the past 18 months, we’ve been piecing together what the supply chain looks like from both a consumer and freight customer perspective. We invested in the Oradea terminal so Ferrymasters has its own inland terminal in Romania. That’s now linked by company trains to the Zeebrugge terminal, which is a ferry asset. We’re also the most connected ferry operator to the UK offering routes from Teesport, Humber and Tilbury. It takes time to string all those assets together, but you’ll see more of that in 2018.” For passenger and freight services alike, Bell knows that long-term success is built on taking the time to deliver what customers want. “Thoroughly understanding your customers’ needs and building tailored propositions for them might make you slower to bring offerings to market, but it delivers solutions that customers value and that allow you to build long-term relationships,” she says. “If you look at the length of the relationships that both P&O Ferries and Ferrymasters have with their customers, they are eye-wateringly good.” Spirit of success As she takes the helm as CEO of P&O Ferries, Janette Bell discusses how she plans to take the brand forward INTERVIEW ”The part of the customer experience that determines what the brand is all about is our people”