As the shipping industry in Asia grows, Annie Chua of ICF International tells Sam Ballard why her company is powering change

“ICF International is a one-stop service centre that can handle all manner of construction-related projects, all under one roof”

From the sidelines, the rise of the Asian shipping industry has unfolded with alarming alacrity –not just the huge increases in interest, passenger numbers and ships operating within the region, but also the tertiary and ancillary industries that have sprung up in support of it. Leading the way in one such peripheral, yet integral, industry is ICF International, a turnkey solutions provider that has been revolutionising the way in which ships do business in Asia.

Having just come off the back of a massive fleetwide project with Asia-based line Star Cruises, it is clear the company has high aspirations. Work on the project included creating a 450sqm shopping boulevard onboard SuperStar Gemini and tripling the retail space of SuperStar Virgo to 562sqm. All the work is indicative of what lines will have to do to get through to Asian passengers, according to the company’s executive director Annie Chua.

“The project with Star Cruises went completely to plan,” she says. “All parties were very satisfied with the final result.

“Over the last two or three years, the major players in the cruise market have taken a bigger interest in their retail operation. For the Asian cruise market in particular it is paramount to success. It not only brings in extra revenue, which is obviously important, but it also adds an extra experience for the passenger.”

The project has stood them in good stead for the coming months and with future commissions in place, it’s clear that more cruise lines are coming round to the idea of having their ships renovated in Asia, rather than at the European yards which have dominated the industry for decades. However, according to Chua, the company’s location, quality assurances and competitive price point all mean that ICF International is looking at a strong future, not just within Asia, but on a global front.Turnover at ICF International has increased by 50% in the last three years, indicative of the rate at which the entire Asia shipping industry is growing. If statistics released by the Cruise Lines International Association are correct, 2.1 million passengers will take a cruise in Asia in 2015 – a figure that represents a 61% increase on 2012.But, given the startling performance of the last three years, how will Chua and ICF International continue that momentum into the future? “To put it simply: turnkey solutions,” she explains. “ICF International is a one-stop service centre that can handle all manner of construction-related projects, all under one roof. Given that we are the only business of our kind in Asia, we are a huge asset to the Asian passenger shipping market and we firmly believe that our future success will be derived from the cruise and ferry sectors.”

The results – not to mention the company’sorder book – speak for themselves and as the world comes round to Asia playing a bigger role in the global passenger shipping industry, ICF International will undoubtedly play an integral part in making that happen.