Ship supply is a very long established trade, going back to the days of sailing ships, which took weeks,months or even years to complete voyages. In the old days, it was the ship chandler who used to bring salted meat, livestock (chickens, pigs etc.), manila ropes, cargo blocks, sail and twine and related stuff, mainly for sailing vessels.

Nowadays a ship chandler has a much wider scope of supply since hundreds of vessels call at European ports each day and without our services, these ships cannot operate.

"In a sense, ship supply is more than a business. It has always been an activity based on trust, through which suppliers look after the necessities of the Master and crew and establish solid, sometimes lifelong, commercial relationships between shipping companies and port communities". Dr Joe Borg, Member of the European Commission responsible for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs (2004 - 2009).

Today’s ship chandler is a specialized trader or economic operator who has to be able to supply the needs of the ship, including its crew and passengers during time spent at sea or in port, sometimes to very vessel specific requirements or national tastes of the crew at any time of the day or night.

Consequently, ship chandlers have to stock a large variety of technical and non-technical items, to meet the special requirements of different types of vessels and crews of many nationalities.

"Ship suppliers play an essential role [for maintaining maritime trade and shipping] enabling the whole system to work smoothly. Without them, the complex world of maritime logistics could not work, as they enable ships, of all sizes and characteristics, with very different schedules and requirements, to be ready for non-stop operation in all our ports. Ship suppliers today represent a growing sector which has contributed to the creation of added value and jobs in our ports". Dr Joe Borg, Member of the European Commission responsible for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs (2004 - 2009).

In summary, we can define European ship supply as a unique “just-in-time” business which encompasses many different transport modes in many different countries under special time and financial constraints.

Want to find out more? Download the 2015 Ship supply study