Status Report

Business units


The main contributor to the Group’s result are the business units Sea and Air Logistics. In 2021, major profitability improvements were generated in the both Sea and Air Logistics business units.

Sea Logistics

Sea Logistics volumes increased by 1.9 per cent to 4,613,000 TEUs. Specialised services for temperature controlled cargo in reefer containers, pharma and e-commerce have significantly contributed to the result. In an uncertain and volatile market environment during COVID-19 pandemic Kuehne+Nagel maintained its global leading position in Sea Logistics. From a regional perspective, the volume increase of imports in Europe and North America from Asia has continued in 2021. Despite the challenges in capacity availability and high service intensity for all shipments due to extended and unreliable supply chains, a favorable service mix and operational efficiency under the difficult circumstances contributed to significantly increased margins. In 2021, the absolute amount of EBIT increased by 261.5 per cent compared to the previous year, while the ratio of EBIT to gross profit (conversion rate) increased to 55.5 per cent (2020: 29.9 per cent).

It remains the Group’s target to achieve volume growth that is above the market and thereby gaining market shares. Nevertheless, the Group is committed to developing its sustainability solutions towards a zero carbon future. With its focus on maintaining excellent relationship with carriers and cooperating on joint developments for a zero carbon future, the Group adds to its ambition on the Sea and Air Logistics profitability and continuous efficiency improvements.

Sea Logistics volumes: Market growth ~ +6%

TEUs ’000

* Seafreight export TEU‘s not separately reported. Source: quarterly company publications.

Performance Sea Logistics

CHF million202120202019
Turnover 15,662 8,973 9,751
Net turnover 13,706 7,091 7,457
Gross profit 2,754 1,417 1,539
EBITDA 1,561 451 485
EBIT in per cent of gross profit (conversion rate)
Number of operating staff 11,806 10,393 10,535
TEUs '000 4,613 4,529 4,861

Air Logistics

Global Air Logistics volumes have increased in 2021 and in combination with the acquired volumes from Apex, the Group recorded higher volumes by 54.9 per cent, totalling 2,220,000 tons, maintaining a leading position in the global airfreight market.

EBIT-to-gross-profit margin increased to 45.7 per cent in 2021 (2020: 37.9 per cent). EBIT increased by 131.1 per cent compared to the previous year.

In 2021, the increased demand for air transport services was generated from a solid economic rebound but also from challenges in seafreight supply chains; this in combination with an extended period of low availability of belly capacity due to low frequency of passenger travel has led also in the airfreight market to capacity shortage and high freight rates. Similar to the situation in seafreight, a favorable service mix, strong development in the trans-pacific market, unprecedented access to charter capacity and operational efficiency under the difficult circumstances contributed to significantly increased margins.

The Group has entered into cooperation and agreements with world class carriers to jointly strive towards carbon emissions reduction using sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).


Air Logistics volumes: Market growth ~ +18 to 20%

Tons ’000

Source: quarterly company publications.

Performance Air Logistics

CHF million202120202019
Turnover 11,480 5,817 5,465
Net turnover 10,810 5,194 4,653
Gross profit 2,556 1,331 1,317
EBITDA 1,230 600 394
EBIT in per cent of gross profit (conversion rate)
Number of operating staff 10,793 7,845 8,115
Tons '000 2,220 1,433 1,643

Road Logistics

Road Logistics had an increase in net turnover by 14.5 per cent in 2021, due to the economic recovery after the Covid-19 pandemic measures with increased land transport activities in Europe. The Group continued to expand its service offering through the Europe-wide road transportation network. The key performance indicator EBITDA to net turnover margin improved to 4.3 per cent from previous year’s 3.7 per cent. EBIT increased to CHF 94 million (2020: CHF 62 million).

During the entire year 2021, Road Logistics operation in Europe was impacted by a significant shortage of drivers and capacity, whereas the demand for national transport capacities in Europe was regaining pre-crisis level. In North America, demand for all product segments, with the emphasis on pharma & healthcare and e-commerce, was well above the previous year.

With the consistent operational performance even in volatile markets and the expansion of services to industry-specific solutions, Road Logistics continues its contribution to the success of the Group’s integrated logistics offering.

Kuehne+Nagel has launched several initiatives and projects to determine best solutions for reducing emissions for its customers on short- and long-haul including evaluating alternative energies such as bio-fuels (HVO), battery electric vehicles (BEV) and other technologies.  


Performance Road Logistics

CHF million202120202019
Turnover 4,390 3,633 4,102
Net turnover 3,689 3,222 3,586
Gross profit 1,253 1,089 1,121
EBITDA 157 119 136
EBIT in per cent of gross profit (conversion rate)
Number of operating staff 9,723 9,363 8,781

Contract Logistics

After the successful completion of the restructuring program that has focused on a high quality customer portfolio that allows leveraging the other business units and makes use of scalable and sustainable logistics solutions in 2020 and that has led to the reshaping of business size in some European countries, Contract Logistics continuously increases its contribution to the Group’s results.

The focus on specialised end-to-end solutions for industries such as high-tech, consumer goods, pharmaceuticals, healthcare, and e-commerce fulfilment led to numerous new customer contracts.

Whilst the net turnover (net of currency impact) fell by 5.9 per cent against 2020, which is entirely attributable to the divested business activities, the business was able to gain market share in pharma & healthcare services and in e-commerce fulfillment. As a result, the EBITDA to net turnover margin improved to 15.9 per cent versus 15.4 per cent in 2020.

With its renewable energy strategy, Kuehne+Nagel is successfully moving its indirect emissions (scope 2 of the Greenhouse Gas Protocol) away from traditional sourcing. In 2021, renewable energy accounted for 78% of the total energy consumption.


Performance Contract Logistics

CHF million202120202019
Turnover 5,167 5,389 5,977
Net turnover 4,596 4,875 5,398
Gross profit 3,333 3,638 4,004
EBITDA 731 750 814
EBIT in per cent of gross profit (conversion rate)
Number of operating staff 34,309 39,360 43,661
Warehousing and logistics space in sqm 10,206,925 11,343,955 11,388,643
Idle space in sqm 277,661 227,889 336,696
Idle space in per cent 2.7 2.0 3.0