BU Med: One year with Sète

The Sète team celebrating one year with the route.

Precisely one year ago, BU Med moved all sailings between Turkey and France to Sète due to more intermodal opportunities and being strategically right for our customers as it is close to most of our markets such as Spain and Portugal.

With large vessels that can carry up to 300 trucks each trip, the route to and from Sète has made 24,147 transportations on Pendik/Yalova-Sète and 29,031 on Sète-Pendik/Yalova.

With the inclusion of our colleagues from the closed office in Toulon, the Sète team has become a strong unit that works to develop local business and operations. They are currently planning to make train connections in the Port of Sète and set up buildings for recreational activities for drivers in the port.

Ayberk Eskin, France Route Director, says: “I think the improvement we have shown in one year is really admirable. We started this route in the middle of a crisis and had serious problems at the beginning, but we have now reached an excellent service level. I sincerely thank all my friends in France, Turkey, ports, agencies and vessels who contributed for this to happen.”

Jimmy Marolle, Agency Director France, says: “It is now one year ago from when I stood under heavy rain and saw the first call of UND Ege (now Gallipoli Seaways) and I am proud of what we have achieved from that time until now with excellent teamwork at all levels to make this route a success”.

DFDS to establish Competence Center with primeRail

In joint venture with intermodal operator primeRail, DFDS Med will build an intermodal competence Centre in Cologne. Here are Peder Gellert and Lars Hoffmann at the day of the signing in Hamburg with Patrick Zilles (sitting), CEO of primeRail, and Kurt Pelster, Board Member in primeRail.

Today, a significant part of DFDS’ cargo transports between Turkey and Europe is managed from DFDS’ Mediterranean head office in Istanbul through intermodal solutions via Trieste.

In order to grow our intermodal solutions, we will, in addition to our existing set-up, establish a new Intermodal Competence Centre in the Cologne area where focus will be on developing competitive solutions.

DFDS will do this in a joint venture with rail operator primeRail that provides solutions to maximize mobility through innovative and cost-effective intermodal solutions.

Lars Hoffmann, Vice President and Head of DFDS’ Mediterranean unit, says” With our shared knowledge and expertise, we are confident that we will create a strong platform for developing even more efficient intermodal solutions. This will not only benefit our customers, but it will certainly also support the work to reduce our impact on the environment. ”

primeRail started successfully as an intermodal operator in 2019 and has already developed efficient digital solutions and will now immediately starts building the new DFDS Competence Center.

Peder Gellert and Patrick Zilles

Rebranding of BU MED vessels nears completion

You might remember Hasan Goler, Operations Superintendent, striking gold as he came up with the idea for renaming the BU Med fleet. It was to be after the Turkish UNESCO world heritage sites as part of a comprehensive rebranding.

Gemak Group at the Gemak Shipyard has been carrying out the rebranding that will finish at the end of June. BU Med will then be able to proudly present a fully rebranded fleet in DFDS livery and with new, unique names.

Cemil Bayulgen will be the last of the 12 ferries to be rebranded. She will be named Galata Seaways (formerly Cemil Bayulgen). Other names combined with ‘Seaways’ include: Cappadocia (UND Atilim), Olympos (UND Birlik), Assos (Saffet Ulusoy), Artemis (UN Marmara), Aspendos (UN Pendik), Dardanelles (UN Trieste), Zeugma (UN Akdeniz), Sumela (UN Karadeniz), Myra (Cunet Solakoglu), Gallipolli (UND Ege) and Pergamon (UN Istanbul).

Lars Hoffmann, Vice President and Head of BU Mediterranean, says: “This shows how far we have come in making UN RoRo an integral and essential part of DFDS. I am very happy to present a fleet that customers and the public can associate with DFDS and with names that mean something to the local communities in the Mediterranean, as well as being well-known internationally.”

Kemal Bozkurt, VP of Operations in BU Med, says: “The rebranding of the UN RoRo fleet was one of the main pillars in the integration plan. The plan has a comprehensive scope involving major areas that need to be integrated and aligned such as in Finance, Procurement, Sales, Operations, Technical Organisation, HR, Digital, Marketing and IT.

“Even though it has been a challenge, everyone involved has embraced the purpose to learn from the DFDS way of doing business while respecting and adapting to the local culture. This has truly resulted in the creation of a unique DFDS company culture.

“Now we are almost at the final step of a process that will end the UN RoRo era with the last vessel in the Turkish fleet to be rebranded.”


Most of the rebranded vessels from the BU Med fleet. Artemis, Pergamon, Olympos and Galata are missing.

BU MED connects women entrepreneurs

BU MED’s DFDS Academy brought Turkish KAGİDER (Women Entrepreneurs Association of Turkey) and Italian AIDDA (Italian Association of Women Entrepreneurs and Managers) together with the participation of Marie Christine Oghly, World President of World Association of Women Entrepreneurs (FCEM), on Wednesday, June 10th.

The meeting started with the opening speeches of Marie Christine Oghly and National Presidents of AIDDA and KAGİDER, Maria Claudia Torlasco Mastelli and Emine Erdem respectively. During the webinar, members of AIDDA and KAGİDER discussed the ways in which Turkish and Italian entrepreneurs are planning to relaunch the economy after the pandemic.

Members from two businesswomen associations, mostly active in tourism and health sectors, shared their experiences and best cases during the Covid-19 period, together with their newly initiated projects to inspire further cooperation between Italy and Turkey.

National presidents of AIDDA and KAGIDER also “virtually” signed the Memorandum of Understanding to officialize cooperation and the beginning of a more intense dialogue. This will be the first step in a series of other collaborations with similar associations in Europe and in the world.

Özlem Dalga, BU MED Corporate Communications Manager, says: “Originally, this meeting was supposed to be in Trieste, however I am very glad that we were still able to bring these passionate women entrepreneurs from Turkey and Italy together anyhow. We truly believe that the “maritime bridge” which connects Turkey to the city of Trieste will get stronger with this cooperation. We also believe wholeheartedly that this meeting and DFDS Academy will support and empower women in business especially in tourism during the new normal.”

You can see the full webinar here.

The special moment where National presidents of KAGIDER and AIDDA, Emine Erdem (top) and Maria Claudia Torlasco Mastelli (at the bottom) respectively, “virtually” signed the Memorandum of Understanding.

DFDS Academy launches webinars

Top, from let to right: Özlem Dalga, Corporate Communications Manager in BU MED and Arzu Ekiz Akyol, Ekol Logistics Turkey Country Manager.
Bottom, from left to right: Zeybek Atabek, Tur Transit Executive President Şebnem and Berna Akyıldız, Association of International Forwarding and Logistics Service Providers Board Member.

BU Med’s DFDS Academy, where customers familiarize with DFDS’ brand, network, and way of doing business, came back after a long break. This time to demonstrate the impact of Covid-19 outbreak with leaders of logistics sector and monitor the Covid-19 period most effectively.

DFDS Academy has successfully completed two webinars regarding “The Definition of New Normal in Logistics” and “The Continuity of Trade During Covid-19 Period” with the participation of board members of key accounts such as Ekol Logistics, Mars Logistics and associations like UTIKAD, Association of International Forwarding and Logistics Service Providers. Alongside sales and operations employees from different companies, DFDS Academy extended the target group with the webinars and reached 890K people (approx.) through press and social media channels.

DFDS Academy is re-designed as an online platform where people working in logistics share knowledge. For the upcoming weeks, more webinars and several online initiatives are planned by the BU MED Corporate Communications team.

Özlem Dalga, Corporate Communications Manager in BU MED, says: “Now that international offline events are out of the question for a while, we found the best solution was to carry our marketing and communication events online in order to help people to network and have discussions on topics of the industry through arranging webinars and online events. And we realised that there is a need for our community to keep engaging. With the use of the webinar schedule and online events, we are underlining our company’s position as the sector leader during the post COVID-19 stage in order to accelerate the recovery process.”

BU Med celebrates International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day was celebrated all over the world last Sunday on 8 March. The day celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. It also marked a call to action for accelerating women’s equality and to support and empower women, not only on this day, but on all other days as well.

For this important occasion, our colleagues from BU Med took time to reflect on how it is to work at DFDS and in the maritime industry in general as a woman. See the great video above where some of our colleagues share their point of view and wish everyone a happy International Women’s Day.

BU Med signs new collective agreement

From left: Seran Yüzbaşıoğlu, HR Director; Kemal Bozkurt, VP Operations, and representatives of the Turkish Seafarers’ Union celebrate a successful collective bargaining process

After a series of meetings with the Turkish Seafarers’ Union, a new, collective agreement has been signed for the benefit of our colleagues on board BU Med vessels and at the terminals. The agreement has already come into force and is valid until the end of 2021.

Seran Yüzbaşıoğlu, HR Director, says: “The new collective agreement provides improved working conditions and a number of benefits.

“We took into account the Bearing Survey results while preparing the agreement, as equal opportunities and working conditions are the most significant areas requiring further improvement. With the agreement, I believe that we are going to improve our colleagues’ motivation and job satisfaction.”

Kemal Bozkurt, VP Operations, says: “We experienced a very positive, collaborative negotiation process with the union. The outcome is much more satisfactory for both parties, and we have managed to conclude some of the long-standing issues.

“The terms improved to 2 months on and 1 month off for the officers and 3 months on and 1 month off for the ratings. Additional social benefits and working conditions are now aligned with the rest of DFDS. The wage levels for land-based employees have been standardized.

“I believe these improvements will contribute to increasing yet further the loyalty and dedication of our colleagues. I would like to thank all who participated in the process.”

New Director in BU Med

Önder Ulaş Başboğa, former Sales Marketing Manager at Ulusoy Sealines, started his new role as Sales & Business Development Director in BU MED on 18 February. He will be reporting to Fuat Pamukçu, VP Sales, Marketing, Business Development & Strategy.

Önder will be working on developing sales and marketing strategies and creating new business opportunities for BU Med. In his new role, he will also focus on existing and future trends of operational methods which are applicable and supports BU Med.

Önder says, “First of all I am glad to be a member of the DFDS family. Wıth my experience in the RoRo business, I look forward to work on customer satisfaction, all sales activities and market strategies of the BU. Along with my colleagues, I am certain that we will move the DFDS brand and services into an even better prestigious position.

Fuat says: “The first block of DFDS Way is to be customer driven, and I believe Önder’s appointment as the Sales Director for BU MED is an important step in promoting DFDS’ Ferry services and brand in the Turkish market, not only to the large logistics customers but to a larger variety of Turkish logistics and transport companies. I warmly welcome Önder to the DFDS family and wish him success in his new role.”

Testing new fuel performance programme

BU Med vessels to test advanced fuel saving system. The team implementing the fuel-saving programme – from the left: Hasan Göler, Operations Superintendent, Rune Daae, Project Superintendent, Lina Christensen, Naval Architect, Ahmet Ender, Performance Superintendent and Jacob Pedersen, Head of Projects & Implementation.


A big step in fuel efficiency for DFDS’ fleet is in sight, and Technical Organisation have exciting news to share.

Recently they began the implementation of a new Fuel Performance Program (FPP) on seven BU Med vessels.

The system is AI-based, and it is expected to lead to fuel savings of around 6% and up to 10% on each vessel. It supports decision making for the officers on the bridge, taking all factors affecting fuel performance into account: from wind and waves to speed, water depth and more.

Additionally, the system provides the operators with insight into exactly where the fuel is spent between those areas, automatically doing a large amount of analysis that is easy to work with and helps officers make efficiency adjustments.

Jacob Pedersen, Head of Projects & Implementation, says: “Making a fuel saving upgrade of this scale will have a great impact if implemented across DFDS’ fleet. It saves the environment from a substantial amount of emissions, in line with reaching IMO (International Maritime Organisation)’s 40% reduction by 2030 compared to 2008 numbers.”

“The FPP is a revolution in the way we work with fuel performance optimisation. It’s a combined program that connects output from simple, high frequency auto-logged sensor data with continuous back-office support.”

How the FPP works

1. Installation of sensors to continuously collect data without burying the crew in the tedious manual data collection work. New hardware and software will leverage the knowledge in the collected data.

2. New decision support tools on board the vessels to dynamically advise on the optimum speed, route and trim to minimise the fuel consumption during the voyage.

3. Data will be used ashore for decision support as well as to evaluate the continuous improvements that are constantly carried out and to ensure that good practices are shared fleet wide.

Lina Christensen, Naval Architect, says: “Today we do performance monitoring differently across the fleet. The FPP is meant to standardise our approach, transforming DFDS into one of the most connected and AI influenced ship operators in the world. We have great collaboration with colleagues in the Mediterranean fleet, and this is an optimal region to start in because of their well-developed fuel reporting already in place.”

The work is carried out in close collaboration between Projects & Implementations, BU Med and the crews onboard the vessels. P&I and BU Med will evaluate the collected data and give an update on the testing and the further scope of the project at a later date.

A trip around locations in BU Med

Jimmy Marolle (left) and Lars Hoffmann (right) with the Socotu Shipping team

The first week of February was a busy one for Lars Hoffmann, Vice President and Head of BU Mediterranean and Jimmy Marolle, Route & Agency Director. Together they went on a trip to Tunesia and France meeting colleagues, local partners, and agencies as well as seeing the facilities. They ended the trip in Sète for a town hall meeting.

The purpose of the trip was to give Lars Hoffmann an overview and a first-hand impression of the facilities at the Port of Rades and La Goulette, the two ports that we are calling in Tunisia and of course getting a chance to talk to colleagues about the operation and local business.

Newly promoted Jimmy Marolle, Route & Agency Director, says “In Tunesia, we met our local partners, third party agent and transport and logistics company, Socotu, who has represented DFDS for over 20 years and Tunisian ferry company Cotunav with whom we have a technical partnership with and the port authorities as well. We introduced them to our new structure and organization in BU Med and discussed cooperation reinforcement as well as Turkey-Tunisia business opportunities and possibilities.”

“We concluded our trip in France with a town hall meeting at the newly established office in Sète where it was a pleasure meeting our enthusiastic team handling the Istanbul – Sète route. The meeting focused, among other things, on recent development in the Business Unit, and how we can contribute to a successful delivery of our Win23 ambitions” says Lars Hoffmann, Vice President and Head of BU Mediterranean.

Photo taken at the 
office in Sète: From left to right: Alexandre Sabatte, Lars Hoffmann, Atakan Alkan, Marjorie Magnier, Jimmy Marolle, Julien Mestre, Saïd Sid, Cécilia Escolano, Arthur Claude.


Lars Hoffmann accompanied by Zohra Souab from Socotu in the middle of a tour at the Port of Rades.

BU Med is targeting improved Health and Safety

Özge Süalp Altun is new Head of Health and Safety in BU Med.


BU Med is targeting improved HSE (Health, Safety & Environment) standards in operations as an important goal for 2020. As a new resource for this purpose, C. Özge Süalp Altun started her role as Head of HSE in BU Med on 3 February, reporting to Kemal Bozkurt, VP Operations for BU Med.

Özge will be working to improve standards on Health and Safety Management on terminals and vessels, aiming to establish a common monitoring, reporting and management approach within the unit. She is a “Class A Occupational Health & Safety Specialist” with experience in international working environments.

Kemal Bozkurt, VP Operations, says: “Following the unfortunate incident we had in Trieste back in October, 2019, we have launched an Health and Safety project to review and improve the HSE standards within our area of responsibility.”

“Detailed analysis and field inspections were conducted within the scope of the project. The action plan is being executed with most of it are already in place, and we are now restructuring the Health & Safety organisation to further strengthen our operational control in the field. I’m excited to see the contribution of Özge and wish her the best for her new endavour.”

Özge says, “I am very excited to be a member of such a big international family and I have felt the warm welcome from the very start. I’m also fully aware of the challenges ahead of me and I believe that I will contribute to the new Occupational Health and Safety structure with my experience and knowledge.”

Phoenix implemented on Sète-Yalova

Our colleagues working on the IT and Digital integration of our Mediterranean offices into the DFDS network

Following months of dedicated work both from the development teams as well as the local offices learning the new ways of working, Phoenix, our core IT system for the freight business, went live on the Sète-Yalova route and reverse route on 22 and 23 January. This is the first ex-UN Ro-Ro route to switch to the new booking system in BU Mediterranean. More routes will follow in the next couple of months.

This marks an important milestone in the IT and Digital integration of our Mediterranean offices into the DFDS network as well as a contribution to Pillar B of the Win23 strategy. The successful go-live required a great effort in preparation by the Phoenix, EDI, MyFreight, BI, Website, and Marketing teams as well as the valuable input of our offices in Sète, Yalova and Istanbul in order to come up with smart solutions under the coordination of Michael Herbaek and Attila Gulyas as project leads.

“As with any project like this, the implementation process was not without challenges, however these have been efficiently managed through proactive coordination efforts and quick solutions by the team.” says Daniel Capes, FM Team Lead.

“Our teams of superusers, system analysts and developers were deployed across three locations in close coordination through the day, working together with our colleagues in Sète, Yalova and Istanbul to get everything ready for the sailings. We are thankful for the hard work of everyone involved.”  explains Sara Ryden – Product Owner Phoenix, BU MED.

Phoenix to be implemented on other routes 
This first go-live is just the start of the Digital and IT implementation roadmap in BU Mediterranean. Phoenix will be introduced on almost a bi-weekly basis to new routes and the entire process is expected to be completed at the end of March.

“We are pleased that the first go-live has been successful and look forward to providing our customers and colleagues in the Mediterranean with an improved Digital experience.” says Lars Hoffman, Vice President & Head of Business Unit Mediterranean.

Aligning with the rest of DFDS
“Some of the positive effects of the new system are already starting to show, while it is still early days, we can definitely tell that there will be significant efficiency benefits in aligning systems processes with the rest of DFDS” says Alihan Murat Tutuncu, Phoenix Superuser in Istanbul.

“We have put an enormous effort in implementing Phoenix in BU Med. This was a team effort so I would like to thank everyone who involved in the development phase. Once the users are fully up to speed with using Phoenix in these weeks, MyFreight will be introduced gradually to the customers as the new way of making bookings with DFDS” says Aslihan Tur – Software Supervisor.

Besides the mentioned systems, GTMS will also be soon implemented for gate operations in Pendik Terminal.

Our colleagues from the office in Yalova

Our colleagues from the office in Sète

Promotions in BU Med

Malte Lühnen and Jimmy Marolle

New Operations Manager for France route
Malte Lühnen, currently working in BU Baltic as Bookings Manager, will move from Klaipėda to İstanbul for a new position as Operations Manager. He will take up his new role on 2 March and will report to Ayberk Eskin, Route Director France.

Malte will be working on operations management for France and Phoenix integration.

Ayberk Eskin, Route Director France, says: “I’m excited that Malte will join my team. With his experience and know-how, he will provide a great contribution, especially in the solution to the operational problems we have experienced in Sète and in the transition to Phoenix and MyFreight.”

Aleksej Slipenciuk, Route Director & Agency Director, says: “I know Malte from my time in Klaipėda, where he lifted routing booking to the art of yield management. We will miss him, however I’m sure that he will contribute much more in BU Med and that step is best both for DFDS and Malte’s personal development. I wish him good luck with his new tasks.”

Lars Hoffmann, VP and Head of BU Med, says: “I look forward to having Malte in BU Med, as I know his capabilities from my previous work in BU Baltic. Malte and Caris Petersen will run our France and Italy routes in close cooperation, as they previous did on the Kiel – Klaipėda route. I am sure they will be a great benefit, as we will start integrating Phoenix and the DFDS Way of working. A special thanks to my colleagues in BU Baltic, especially Anders Refsgaard, Vice President and Head of BU Baltic, for accepting two colleagues to Istanbul from BU Baltic.”

Jimmy Marolle, new Agency Director of France
Furthermore, Jimmy Marolle is promoted to Agency Director, France, within BU Med and covering both our locations in Marseille and Sète.

He will also continue to act as Route Director for Marseille – Tunisia and report to Lars Hoffmann, VP and Head of BU Med.

Jimmy has been working at DFDS since 2012. He is an ex-employee of LD Lines (ferry section of Louis Dreyfus Armateurs) and used to be based in Paris. He moved to Marseille where he established the Marseille office in 2014 and the Sète office in July 2019.

“I am so happy to be part of this exciting new challenge and to contribute to the continuous development of DFDS in southern France,” says Jimmy.

Lars Hoffmann, Head of BU Med, says: “Jimmy has for many years been responsible for Marseille – Tunisia. He transferred to BU Med when we acquired UN RoRo in 2018, and during 2019 we decided to add Sète, which came under the management of Jimmy.

We have now closed down Toulon and terminated our external agency agreement. Jimmy has established a new team in Sète and he is now in charge of all BU Med activities in France. He has been with DFDS for many years, shown his capability to maintain and develop our activities in southern France, especially during our challenging times in Sète. I am glad we have Jimmy and his team in Sète. They make a difference to BU Med, and it is therefore also a pleasure for me that Jimmy gets this promotion.”

DFDS visits Turkish Minister of Transportation, Maritime Affairs and Communications

On 30 January, Torben Carlsen, CEO, Peder Gellert Pedersen, EVP & Head of Ferry Division, and Lars Hoffmann, VP and Head of BU Med, met with Mehmet Cahit Turhan, the Turkish Minister of Transportation, Maritime Affairs and Communications, to extend and strengthen the cooperation between DFDS and Turkey.

Ali Kurumahmut, former member of the Council of State appointed by the President of the Republic of Turkey, Selim Dursun, Deputy Minister, and Ahmet Selçuk Sert, Deputy Undersecretary & General Manager of Maritime and Inland Waters Regulation, also attended the meeting on behalf of the Ministry. Levent Şinel, Port Operations Manager, and Arif Akkoz, Agency Manager were also at the meeting on behalf of BU Med, alongside Lars Hoffmann.

During the meeting, the history of DFDS and current investments, including IT, made by DFDS in Turkey since 2018 were discussed by Turkish officials and DFDS executives. They also highlighted DFDS’ trust in Turkey and the Turkish logistics sector as one of the most crucial elements, and discussed the upcoming investments plan.

Lars Hoffmann says: “It was great to have Torben and Peder in Ankara to meet the Minister of Transport and the Undersecretary. The Ministry is handling most of the formalities relating to our Turkish-flagged vessels, terminals etc. It is important for BU Med and DFDS to have good relationships with the authorities in Turkey. I am sure this visit will benefit BU Med in the long term, as the Turkish Government values our investments in Turkey, and understands our business. A special thanks to Arif and Levent, who have achieved the extraordinary feat of establishing this meeting with the help of their relationships.”

The Turkish Minister of Transportation Mehmet Cahit Turhan and Torben Carlsen holding the honorable gift from the minister.

From left: Peder Gellert, Torben Carlsen, Mehmet Cahit Turhan, Lars Hoffmann, Selim Dursun, and Levent Sinel

BU Med starts DFDS Academy for customers

Earlier this month, BU Med organised the first “DFDS Academy” inviting more than 70 customers to familiarize with DFDS’ brand, network, and way of doing business.

Our colleagues from BU Med informed the customers about the DFDS network, intermodal operations, freight booking systems and health and safety issues in ports.

Each part had a following Q&A session, where our customers asked questions and expressed some operational issues, which made the event very benefical as our colleagues and customers got the chance to collaborate and make our operations much more efficient and smoother for both sides.

The highlight on the agenda was the customers introduction to MyFreight system, our online booking platform for freight customers, which they had the oppurtunity to see for the first time thanks to a sneak preview video.

Dursun Arslan, Superuser from BU Med, talked about all the details regarding the system. He also mentioned Phoenix to remove all question marks in customers’ minds.

The Academy ended with a great networking session.

Dursun Arslan, Italy & Greece Route Deputy Operations Manager says: “In the Academy, customers from company operations departments were informed about our new booking system My-Freight. Thanks to our managers for providing this initiative and all attendees for joining us on this event. This programme is the first one of the year but of course will not the be last.”

Here’s to a bright new year in BU Med

Our colleagues in Istanbul celebrated New Year’s Eve in high spirits


Colleagues in BU Med rung in the new year a few days early with a cracking New Year’s party in Istanbul loaded with entertainment.

This year’s entertainment was a harmony of different cultural traditions, beginning with an opera performance. Ave Maria by Schubert, O mio babbino caro by Puccini, and Aşkı Fısıldar Sesin by Neveser Kökdeş were sung by Ayşe Yüzbaşıoğlu, a Turkish opera singer.

After this amazing concert, BU Med’s folk dance team performed ‘Horon’, a traditional dance originating from northern Turkey.

Lars Hoffmann, VP and Head of BU Med, made a speech about the important developments in 2019 and gave an annual performance evaluation for the Business Unit. He also presented 15th and 20th anniversary awards, a DFDS-branded commemorative crystal ro-ro ship model, to seven colleagues.

The New Year party concluded with live music performances and dancing. BU Med welcomed 2020 with a night full of great company and fresh motivation.

New year’s update on BU Med

Lars Hoffmann gives an update on a busy time in BU Med where the colleagues have experienced many changes and challenges – and are on the right track for the future


I have now been in Istanbul for six months, and it has been an extremely positive experience though we have had and will continue to have challenges in the business.

There is still a way to go, but we are certain that together in BU Med, we will be able to deliver on our Win23 targets.

I have met really friendly colleagues and customers, and in general, Turkey is a great place to stay, and I like living here. The Turkish economy is still challenged, but the heavy drop has stopped, and things are catching up and getting more stable now.

We have started the journey of making The BU Med “really Blue” and working the DFDS way. My colleagues have really embraced the change of name to DFDS and promoted it with an impressive enthusiasm and energy. It has been a pleasure to experience this, and the timing was excellent as we at the same time moved into our new and very nice office in Istanbul.

Together with my colleagues in The Management Team, we developed a plan for the change relatively fast as it was quite obvious to us what we needed to fix.

We are investing a lot in developing and restructuring our organisation so it has the DFDS skeleton.

Our IT and Development Team is expanding and has demonstrated its ability
to deliver efficiently on their targets.

From early January, additional DFDS colleagues will come to work in Istanbul, and we are continuously doing training and had the pleasure hosting our Horizon Talents in November. We have introduced a new organisation based on DFDS’ general Route Director structure. We are setting up a BU Med claims desk and initiated a Health and Safety campaign on our vessels and terminals.

We have been focusing on our operations to achieve a necessary improvement of our reliability in regard to terminals, sailing schedules and transit times in general. We also closed our operations in Toulon and are now focusing only on Sète where we also have our own agency.

Phoenix will be installed early January, following GTMS, which for sure will be to the benefit of us all.

All in all: We are on the right track, but there is still a way to go, including in our cooperation with our customers and adapting behaviours to a new business model.

New Year’s Eve in Turkey is almost the same as Christmas Eve in Europe. We will therefore have our New Year’s Evening Dinner on 23 December, where almost 300 colleagues will celebrate the end of 2019, wishing each other and BU Med a prosperous 2020.

Thank you to all my colleagues in BU Med for embracing all the changes we have made.
I wish you all a Happy New Year.


Lars Hoffmann, VP and Head of BU Med

BU Med’s Starfish programme started

Our newly selected talents for BU Med’s trainee program, Starfish, started their competency training on December 4.

The young starfishes began their first training learning the history of DFDS and the DFDS Way, and then continued with self development, identifying different personalities and behaviours by referring to personality type’ studies.

Three more training sessions are planned with the project depending on our young talents’ main improvement points. These trainings will cover effective communication techniques, management skills and public speaking skills.

BU Med has many ambitions with the Starfish such as improving young talents’ interpersonal skills to create a more collaborative working environment in the future whether when they are on board or in the office. By this program, talents is educated within the DFDS culture and values.

Gizem Şen, PR & Corporate Communications Jr. Specialist, says: “I think the word that should be used to summarize this amazing program is commitment. We, all Starfishes, are improving esprit de corps day by day and this strengthens the bonds among us and DFDS. I look forward to meeting future talents in this program.”

BU Med now in place in southern France

Marseille and Sète teams together with Ayberk Eskin (Route Director France) and his sales team this week at a Christmas dinner

We are currently operating two routes in southern France: Marseilles – Tunis from the office in Marseille and Istanbul – Sète from the office in Sète which we began to set-up as soon as the route started back in July.

“This agency was created from scratch in July 2019 and in a limited time period, they managed two weekly calls from July to October. However due to demand, we quickly added a third call. The route is now operated with four vessels and offers three sailings per week on fixed days. The office in Sète started as three colleagues with the support and assistance of our agency in Istanbul and I would, in this regard, like to thank them for their great help,” says Jimmy Marolle, France Agency Manager. “In Sète, there are now eight people and four of them are from our previous agency in Toulon.

New responsibilities for Saïd Sid
“We are very pleased that Saïd Sid, who was Operations Manager in Marseilles, has decided to move to Sète as Port and Operations Manager. Saïd will remain in charge of both operations in each location and will keep reporting to Jimmy.

This will ensure favourable collaboration between the agencies that will benefit from Saïd’s experience,” says Lars Hoffmann, Vice President & Head of BU Mediterranean.

“Additionally, the Port of Sète is offering intermodal facilities, that neither the port of Toulon nor Marseille are offering, which will certainly lead to new business development for DFDS. The Marseille – Tunis route continues unchanged with three calls per week.

“In France, we have experienced a much closer cooperation with Istanbul, which definitely will benefit our business. We have been assisted with manpower whenever we needed, so we really look forward to developing this route – as we are now are working as one unit.”

Organisation chart of the agencies in Marseille and Sète:

Orientation Day in BU Med

New employees in Turkey get thorough onboarding with monthly port visits to see daily operations.


For new DFDS employees, learning and observing the daily operations is usually exciting, and it provides valuable workplace experience in addition to the regular onboarding process.

In BU Med, the onboarding takes six months. In addition to standard orientation and administrative parts, we have been conducting port visits with our newcomers every month.

On 3 December, a group went to our port in Pendik to meet colleagues working portside. During the day, they discussed port operations, the agency and the daily challenges. They also saw the unloading and loading of Ephesus Seaways, one of the biggest ro-ro ships operating in the Mediterranean Sea.

Özlem Dalga, new PR & Corporate Communications Manager in BU Med, says: “It was a great experience to see the terminal on a busy day. I think this is very important to get a practical understanding of one of DFDS’ core services. As newcomers from various departments, we definitely realised what is meant by the common quote ‘We move for all to grow’. I would like to thank Seran Yüzbaşıoğlu, Evren Serindağ and Hanife Turan from HR for this great orientation.”

TURDEF visits BU Med

From the left: Capt. Uğur Demir, Crewing Superintendent; Erkan Dereli, Chairman of TURDEF; Lars Hoffmann, Head of BU Med; Capt. Bengi Şan, Capt. Cengiz Karabiber and Capt. Koray Karagöz, Executive Board Members of TURDEF

In late November, Erkan Dereli, Chairman of the Turkish Maritime Association (TURDEF), and executive board members visited DFDS’ office in Istanbul to convey their support to BU Med for the increasing number of female officers on board.

Erkan Dereli and the board members were informed about the DFDS diversity policies and initiatives by Lars Hoffmann, Head of BU Mediterranean, and Uğur Demir, Crewing Superintendent.

BU Med is currently focusing on increasing the number of female seafarers on board the vessels.

Crewing Superintendent Uğur Demir says: “Superintendents and HR colleagues from BU Med have joined many career days to answer questions about careers at DFDS and tell stories about female seafarers working at BU Med. Şima Demir is one of them, and she became the first female master at DFDS. This has already inspired and encouraged future seafarers to start their own careers with DFDS.”

These initiatives and other gender policies have made DFDS the leading maritime company in Turkey regarding gender diversity.

Uğur Demir continues: “It’s been a pleasure for us to meet associations and people who are willing to improve equality and support women in the maritime industry. It is great to see that our initiatives make a great impact.”

BU MED visits university to attract talent

Piri Reis University is one of the biggest maritime universities in Turkey and has the vision to provide quality education and training that can compete globally.

BU Med supported this vision by attending the university’s career days where Uğur Demir, Crewing Superintendent & HR BP, Evren Serindağ, Training Development Supervisor & HR BP, and Kıvanç Dikmen, Crewing Supervisor talked about Win23, career opportunities and the intern programme Starfish.

BU Med is making great efforts to attract talented students to the maritime business. In the programme students have the opportunity to complete a six-month internship on board one of our vessels, and after completion, the interns are evaluated by the captain.

The best students are chosen to continue with the Starfish Project. These students are given scholarships by BU Med, and trained in line with their professions and for self-improvement. When the Starfish Project students graduate, we offer them deck or engine officer positions.

Seran Yüzbaşıoğlu, HR Director, says: “Collaboration is the key. We should collaborate with the universities and support them as much as we can as we are in a unique business that has much potential. Moreover, we have another responsiblity to explain the young talents the vision of DFDS and the value it brings.”

BU Med attends diversity conference

Ayberk Eskin, Route Director and Şima Demir, Marine Superintendent

To raise awareness about equality, BU Med attended a conference called #WomanEqualsManFullStop, organised by Yanındayız Association on 24 October 2019.

The aim is to create better awareness and active involvement in the struggle against challenges and prejudices that create gender inequality and discrimination.

Some 600 people from businesses all over the world got together to share their insights into numerous initiatives and existing work to support women, including company strategies, projects and advocacy. Inspiring stories about women in exciting positions were also shared with the participants.

On behalf of DFDS, Ayberk Eskin, Route Director, and Şima Demir, Marine Superintendent, took to the stage and spoke about how DFDS supports women in the business and the challenges facing women on their career journey.

Ayberk highlighted the benefits of increasing diversity and equality in traditional male-dominated businesses. Şima Demir, the first female master of a DFDS vessel, stated how proud she is of her job. In her speech, she made important points about how women can deal with the challenges that may arise, and how she has never felt any regrets during her career, even when things were difficult at times.

The conference ended with stories of our world-class female athletes. They highlighted gender equality and equal opportunity in every area of life by saying #WomanEqualsManFullStop.

Şima Demir, Marine Superintendent and Ayberk Eskin, Route Director

Great visit to Pendik

During his tour of Pendik earlier this week, Torben Carlsen met many colleagues in the port and agency. At a staff meeting, he informed them about the status of DFDS and the implementation of our Win23 strategy and its significance to BU Med.

Earlier this week I had the opportunity to visit our port operation in Pendik. On a tour of the port, Port Operations Manager Levent Sinel explained how the operation has seriously improved recently. For example, loading and unloading of Ephesus took 18 hours at the beginning – this week it took only 10 hours.

Apart from the dedication of our colleagues, the improvement has also been supported by the simplification of our route network, which means that all vessels from Pendik now call at Trieste whereas before, France-bound vessels also called at Pendik but are now calling from Yalova. And as agency manager Arif Akkoz and Lars Hoffmann told me, the first steps in our improvement work have so far resulted in a more structured operation that has removed the queues we have previously seen building up at the terminal gate.

I was also very pleased to listen to Levent explaining the extensive safety measures undertaken at the port following the recent tragic incident in Trieste, emphasising that speed of operation must never happen at the expense of safety.

After the tour, I had the opportunity to meet the full crew in Pendik. I was thrilled to see the motivation and eagerness of all my colleagues to do a good job for our customers and was challenged by a few of my colleagues with questions showing their focus and dedication.

Torben Carlsen