Today’s Logistics Report: Fighting for a Port; Strife on Docks; Accelerating Technology


An Islamic extremist insurgency in Mozambique is getting disturbingly close to major natural gas developments. A group affiliated with Islamic State seized control of the East African country’s Mocimboa da Praia port this month, the WSJ’s Costas Paris, Sarah McFarlane and Benoit Faucon report. The confrontation is bringing violence to a site that’s been used as a logistics transit point for equipment heading to developments that include a multibillion-dollar project led by French energy giant

Total SA

. Shipping companies and shipbuilders have been looking at that site as a potential boon because it would require some 16 new liquefied natural gas carriers to handle the projected output. Total says it’s not slowing down, and has “a robust security protocol in place with the authorities to ensure the security of the workforce and the operations.” The project is one of three major energy developments planned in Mozambique that have drawn significant foreign backing.

TRANSPORTATION

Labor strife at the Port of Montreal is disrupting supply chains in Eastern Canada and pushing freight to other gateways. The walkout by dock workers is nearly two weeks old, the WSJ’s Vipal Monga reports. The dispute is hitting operations at the country’s second-biggest port as companies are gearing up for stronger business following the pandemic-driven downturn in the first half of the year. The longshore workers have been working without a contract since the end of 2018, and they’re looking for an improvement in scheduling they say leaves them with little work-life balance. For shipping customers, the walkout marks a new hotspot in port operations around North America that are frequently subject to labor-management tensions. Montreal is a major gateway for both container and bulk-industrial goods, and for now shippers are looking to Halifax and even to some U.S. East Coast ports as alternatives.

QUOTABLE


Online has really become the front door to stores.


— Fahim Siddiqui, senior vice president of information technology at Home Depot.

E-COMMERCE

Retailers are trying to ramp up their digital investments as fast as shoppers are moving online.

Home Depot Inc.,

Nestlé SA,

AutoNation Inc.

and others are accelerating their e-commerce efforts, the WSJ’s Sara Castellanos writes, resetting technology and operations they expect to continue even once the pandemic subsides. E-commerce has been a bright spot amid the upheaval in the retail sector since the spring, and digital capabilities have marked the dividing between continuity and collapse for many merchants. U.S. e-commerce sales are forecast to grow 18% to $709.8 billion this year, representing a record 14.5% of total retail sales. That’s driving the urgent rollout of new technology and fresh logistics strategies to meet the demand. Home Depot in May converted a Chicago- area warehouse into a consumer fulfillment center and upgraded to new IT systems to manage the warehouse. The project was completed in just three weeks.

Number of the Day

$2.19

Average rate per mile for spot-market truckload service in the U.S. the week ending Aug. 14, up 16 cents from July to the highest level in two years, according to DAT Solutions.

IN OTHER NEWS

The number of Americans filing for first-time unemployment benefits rose to 1.1 million last week. (WSJ)

Europe’s economic recovery slowed in August while Japan saw another drop in activity. (WSJ)

Chinese e-commerce giant

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.

’s first-quarter profit more than doubled from the same period a year earlier. (WSJ)

Chinese mobile payments company Ant Financial earned $3.5 billion in its most recent six-month reporting period. (WSJ)

A California appeals court paused a ruling that required

Uber Technologies Inc.

and

Lyft Inc.

to reclassify their drivers as employees. (WSJ)

The Pentagon gave five small drone manufacturers permission to sell to the U.S. military and federal agencies. (WSJ)

American Airlines is dropping flights to several small U.S. cities in October when federal subsidies for the service expire. (WSJ)

Mall owner

CBL & Associates

plans to file for bankruptcy protection by Oct. 1. (WSJ)

The U.S. suspended a reciprocal tax exemption arrangement with Hong Kong for shipping companies. (South China Morning Post)

Kohl’s

says it faced higher second-quarter shipping costs as it sought to fulfill e-commerce orders from closed department stores. (Supply Chain Dive)

The owner of TJ Maxx apparel stores say supply chain and logistics problems hampered efforts to restock as outlets reopened. (Sourcing Journal)

The resurrected Toys R Us brand dropped an e-commerce deal with

Target Corp.

and will fulfill orders through

Amazon.com Inc.

(Forbes)

L Brands Inc.’s’

revenue fell in the second quarter on a 39% slide in Victoria’s Secret sales. (CNBC)

Maersk Line says nearly half of its spot bookings now come from its digital instant quote service. (Journal of Commerce)

Navios Maritime Inc. lost $35.3 million in the second quarter on slumping dry bulk demand. (Lloyd’s List)

Navios Maritime will list its South American logistics business through an initial public offering. (TradeWinds)

Norwegian tanker operator Odfjell swung to a $31 million net profit in the second quarter on strong demand for chemical transports. (ShippingWatch)

Parking for heavy-duty trucks is becoming harder to find in Texas. (Houston Chronicle)

Fourteen states and the District of Columbia are suing the federal government over a rule allowing the bulk transport of liquefied natural gas by rail. (Progressive Railroading)

Thousands of baby chicks shipped to New England farmers have arrived dead since the Postal Service cut operations in recent months. (Bloomberg)

ABOUT US

Paul Page is editor of WSJ Logistics Report. Follow the WSJ Logistics Report team: @PaulPage, @jensmithWSJ and @CostasParis. Follow the WSJ Logistics Report on Twitter at @WSJLogistics.

Write to Paul Page at paul.page@wsj.com

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