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Since his arrival as new General Manager, Arnaud Guichard has been busy learning all he can about the business, meeting the teams, customers and partners that help make Lubmarine a global leader in marine lubrication. Whilst new to the Lubmarine team, Arnaud has built up a great deal of experience, working at TotalEnergies for the last 26 years across a number of roles internationally. Here he shares his discoveries and thoughts after three months at the helm and sets out what some of the key goals for 2022 will be.



You recently joined Lubmarine as General Manager. What’s your view of the business, its people and the successes this year?



Joining in the last quarter of 2021, my focus was placed firmly on soaking up as much information as possible from the team and the business whilst looking at our strategic direction for 2022 and beyond. As we start the New Year I’d certainly like to wish all of our team, customers, partners and affiliates a happy, healthy and productive 2022.



Through this period of intelligence gathering, what struck me is the knowledge, expertise and diversity of the team we have here. I have experienced how passionate people are about our business. We have highly talented and experienced people within Lubmarine – many with direct seafaring experience – and it is clear that there is real dynamism, and energy and an appetite and capacity to challenge ourselves. This level of expertise, knowledge and drive also extends across our network of partners who I am meeting more of, and who have provided some great insights and shared vision.



I have also enjoyed the process of coming into Lubmarine with fresh eyes and looking at how we work, our strategies, and also asking questions about how and why we do what we do.Clearly in what has been a uniquely challenging 20 months – from a market, environmental and pandemic perspective – it has been evident that the team has worked hard to meet those challenges.



From the outset, 2021 has been a year of continued change and transition. How is the business managing following the introduction of IMO2020, 12 months of raw material cost inflation, and a continuing health pandemic



What has become increasingly evident from meetings with our partners and customers is the impact and concerns around the energy transition at every level of the shipping industry as we move towards 2030 and 2050. Clearly there is a lot of market uncertainty at the moment around which will be the best fuel strategies that vessel operators and owners will need to take to achieve emissions reductions. As an industry we are in a period of transition the likes of which we have never seen, and we are collectively breaking new ground. One of our critical goals, both now and moving forward is to continually strive to show how we are supporting our customers in their move towards decarbonization.



2021 was a very peculiar year. We had multiple issues to contend with - prices sky rocketing, supply issues in the market, major weather events affecting production plants which impacted the availability of base oils and additives. We also had to deal with issues such as freight costs rising dramatically, steel drum availability driving costs up, and even the cost of wood for pallets significantly increasing. And mixed into all of this was the on-going implications of dealing with the impact of the Covid pandemic. It’s fair to say it was probably a perfect storm of multiple issues striking the industry at the same time.Through this, the team remained focussed on supporting customers, helping navigate them through these multiple challenges, displaying an incredible resilience! They can be proud of these achievements.



Do you foresee more change and transition in 2022?



We hope, and believe, we will see more stability in 2022 – not at the levels we saw in 2020 - but certainly better than 2021. Prices are currently stabilizing in the Base Oil market and we hope this should be the case throughout 2022. In terms of the Additives market this is still uncertain and we foresee additional price hikes during 2022.


Given the move towards decarbonization is now well underway we will undoubtedly continue to experience change in 2022 as part of that transition process. One of the areas of key discussions will be around the new build market with our customers wanting to tap into our knowledge to support their project planning. In addition to discussions around fuel strategies and how this will impact the lubricant market and engine lubrication management, we also foresee wider developments in the shape of increased focus on digitization to support customers.



What will be some of your business priorities and ambitions for next year?



The main objective is to preserve profitability in an extremely volatile environment and as always, ensure we do this in a way that protects the safety and well-being of our people, partners and customers. The stabilization of the market is certainly going to be a factor in helping us get back to where we were pre-2021 which is the first goal for us. But we also aim to further innovate in our approach and to create enhanced value for our customers in different ways. We are looking at key market segments and seeing how our strategy can further develop within these whilst looking at new target markets where we feel our combination of products and services can bring a positive difference.



In terms of how we work with our customers, we are looking at a number of ways in which we can be more supportive and innovative. Operational excellence is key. We have really specialist teams around the world and this gives our customers added value and confidence, which will be part of our focus for 2022. One of my hopes also is that we can start to reconnect our teams and our customers in person more in 2022. Throughout Covid we have had all of our teams connected through technology, which has provided continuity for our customers. The strength of the team is massively important and being together in a face-to-face scenario is something we hope to be able to build on should travel restrictions become easier.



What do you see as key services and products?



From a product development perspective as we have said, one of our key goals will be to support customers in their transition towards decarbonization. The best way to reduce emissions is to reduce energy consumption. If we can help our customers achieve this using advanced engine oil lubrication with the marine fuels of the future, then we can not only help them save money in fuel consumption, but importantly meet their environmental challenges head on. We plan to launch new lubricant products in 2022 to support this.



Aligned with this is the development of enhanced services which we will also be launching in 2022 utilizing new digital tools which will help our customers across the optimization, monitoring, analysis and interpretation aspects of their lubrication management strategies. It’s a really exciting time in terms of the use of digital tools and this can be a key differentiator for us in the market, enabling us to actively demonstrate how we can better support our customers on their energy transition.



We have to see changes in the industry as opportunities and exciting ones at that. Our aim is to keep at the forefront of delivering not only high quality lubrication products and services, but crucially supporting the shipping industry through our own drive, innovation and focus on delivering great customer service.



Looking ahead to the end of next year, what would you like to see the business and the team achieve?



We want to build on the great things we already do and enhance the level of service we offer our customers. Customer centricity has to be built on customer proximity and knowledge. We want to ensure we build on the great relationships we have with our customers. Our focus will be to listen to them, to hear their needs and to help them meet their challenges.


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