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The European automotive and chemical logistics sectors have been hit hardest by the present economic downturn and will not recover to pre-recession levels before 2012, according to figures published in the latest report by Transport Intelligence, European Vertical Sector Logistics 2009. The automotive logistics market in particular felt the full force of the slowdown, severely impacted by production levels slumping by over a quarter in 2009.
On the positive side, the pharmaceutical logistics sector is the star performer, showing consistent growth throughout the period and achieving a compound annual growth rate of 2.4 percent. Even this rate is much lower than that experienced in the past five years when the sector achieved an annual growth rate of 7.8 percent, based on strong underlying volume growth and outsourcing.
Other sectors which have performed robustly in these difficult economic times include the consumer and retail sectors. In particular, sales of fast-moving consumer goods and groceries have held up - consumers are still buying the essentials. This has meant that the major contract logistics specialists, with high exposure to downstream distribution for multinational brands and supermarkets, have been reasonably well protected from the downturn. However the sub-sector of consumer durables has been affected far worse; production levels have declined by over 20 percent since mid-way through 2008 -- although the rate of decrease has now started to level off.
According to John Manners-Bell, chief executive at Transport Intelligence, opportunities for logistics companies still exist in the present economic conditions. "There is no doubt that many logistics companies with high exposure to the most cyclical industry sectors have taken a battering over the past year. However, much of the European contract logistics industry is underpinned by more stable volumes which should allow it to come out of recession largely unscathed. The market leaders will already be identifying how they can take advantage of the upturn, and in which sectors they should be playing."
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