Kuehne+Nagel with a remarkably strong performance in 2021

  • The global leader in sea and air freight
  • High demand for transport services
  • Growth fuelled by healthcare and e-commerce
  • Successful consolidation of Apex Logistics
  • Proposed dividend of CHF 10.00 per share*
Kuehne+Nagel Group
CHF million
FY 2021FY 2020ΔQ4 2021Q4 2020Δ
Net turnover32,80120,38261%10,9605,54398%
Gross profit9,8967,47532%3,0251,95954%
Earnings for the year2,155789173%813214280%
Free cash flow1,7931,45323%79364224%

Kuehne+Nagel recorded a remarkably strong performance in the financial year 2021. 

The Group significantly increased all of its key figures relative to the previous year: net turnover climbed 61% to CHF 32.8 billion, EBIT soared 175% to CHF 2.9 billion and earnings for the year surged by 173% to CHF 2.2 billion. The conversion rate, which reflects EBIT as a percentage of the Group’s gross profit, reached 30%, far surpassing the target of 16% by 2022. All our business units contributed to this success.

Dr. Detlef Trefzger, CEO of Kuehne + Nagel International AG, said: “In 2021, Kuehne+Nagel proved itself an important and reliable logistics partner in a challenging market environment. Our 78,000 colleagues worked relentlessly to support customers with a winning service offering. Once again, we focused on customers, systems, and employees, we accelerated strategic initiatives and we far surpassed our ambitious financial targets. Thus far in the current year, the business outlook has been favourable. However, Russia’s acts of war highlight the unpredictable nature of geopolitics – the effects of which on economic development cannot yet be assessed.”

*Proposal to the Annual General Meeting on 3 May 2022

Sea Logistics

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CHF millionFY 2021FY 2020ΔQ4 2021Q4 2020Δ
Net turnover13,7067,09193%4,5601,928137%
Gross profit2,7541,41794%865366136%

The Sea Logistics business experienced an exceptionally high operational workload in 2021. This was due to the difficult market environment with bottlenecks at ports and out-of-sync supply chains.

At 4.6 million TEU, the container volume in 2021 was up 2% on the previous year. The business unit recorded a net turnover of CHF 13.7 billion and EBIT of CHF 1.5 billion. The conversion rate reached 55.5%.

In 2021, our proven online Seaexplorer platform functionality was expanded significantly. For example, Kuehne+Nagel developed a “disruption indicator” to measure the efficiency of global sea freight networks. The platform creates transparency and signals potential obstructions along the supply chain due to, for example, processing inefficiency or adverse weather conditions.

Air Logistics

CHF millionFY 2021FY 2020ΔQ4 2021Q4 2020Δ
Net turnover10,8105,194108%4,2321,491184%
Gross profit2,5561,33192%989374164%

Limited global freight capacity in 2021 called for customized solutions from the Air Logistics business unit. Demand remained strong for Kuehne+Nagel’s services in areas such as pharmaceuticals, essential goods, and e-commerce. This enabled the business unit to gain significant market share.

At 2.2 million tonnes, airfreight volume for the year increased 55% relative to the previous year. The first-time consolidation in May 2021 of airfreight provider Apex Logistics accounted for around half of the growth. Net turnover for Air Logistics totalled CHF 10.8 billion and EBIT CHF 1.2 billion. The conversion rate reached 45.7%.

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Airfreight played a vital role in the global distribution of Covid-19 vaccines. Kuehne+Nagel transported 1.2 billion doses to around 90 countries around the globe. The Group’s robust vaccine logistics foundation is rooted in a global healthcare network comprised of over 240 sites.

Road Logistics

CHF millionFY 2021FY 2020ΔQ4 2021Q4 2020Δ
Net turnover3,6893,22215%95884214%
Gross profit1,2531,08915%31227713%

The Road Logistics business unit lifted its volume in 2021 by more than 13% to a total of 24.4 million orders. In Europe, capacity utilization was high and networks in North America were also well-booked. Our digital booking platform eTrucknow, originally designed for Asia, was rolled out in around 20 countries across Europe, the Middle East and South America.

The business unit’s net turnover in full-year 2021 amounted to CHF 3.7 billion and EBIT jumped 52% year-on-year to CHF 94 million. At 7.5%, the conversion rate reached a record level.

Our digital customs service, originally developed for Brexit, now offers customers worldwide coverage. The system considerably reduces the administrative workload involved in customs clearance and speeds up handling for all parties involved.

Contract Logistics

CHF millionFY 2021FY 2020ΔQ4 2021Q4 2020Δ
Net turnover4,5964,875-6%1,2101,282-6%
Gross profit3,3333,638-8%859942-9%

*Including net negative one-offs of CHF 42 million in the fiscal year 2020 (Q4 2020: CHF 46 million) including from the divestment of parts of the Contract Logistics activities in the UK.

The Contract Logistics business unit saw high capacity utilization in 2021. In particular, it rapidly expanded its pharmaceutical and e-commerce fulfillment offering. The number of distribution centers now specializing in the healthcare sector and e-commerce fulfillment totals 100 and 175, respectively.

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Following the divestment of a large share of activities in the UK, the business unit’s net turnover of CHF 4.6 billion in full-year 2021 was slightly down on the previous year. By contrast, EBIT nearly doubled to almost CHF 156 million.

Integrated logistics solutions (4PL) were once again in particularly high demand. At eight global sites with KN Control Towers, specialists develop and operate offerings for flexible and efficient supply chains. This enables costs, throughput times and inventories to be optimized even in a challenging operational environment.

Regional results

CHF millionNet turnoverFY 2021Share of Group net turnoverEBITFY 2021Share of Group EBIT
Europe, the Middle East and Africa16,75851.1%1,10237.4%
North and South America10,92233.3%80527.3%


The Board of Directors proposes a dividend of CHF 10.00 per share to the Annual General Meeting to be held on May 3, 2022.

Dr. Joerg Wolle, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Kuehne + Nagel International AG: “In 2021, Kuehne+Nagel successfully capitalized on the strategic initiatives of the past few years. The Company is an agile, innovative, and leading logistics provider shaping an increasingly vital sector of the global economy. Kuehne+Nagel is strategically well-positioned for sustainable growth with promising potential for the future. We are delighted to propose a dividend of CHF 10 per share to the Annual General Meeting, enabling our shareholders to participate in the Company’s success.”

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Devender was born in the year when the Beatles Group was formed. He holds two master’s degrees in English Literature and Public Administration. He also has an Honors degree in English Literature and a post-graduate diploma in Corporate Communications and Public Relations. He was closely associated with the Indian State Transport Undertakings and Ministry of Transport in his role as Corporate Communications and PR specialist for over two decades handling domestic and international organizations. He ventured into business forming his own Media House, Profiles Media Network Private Limited which is now a twenty years old company. Excelling as an editor, Marketing, PR, Anchor, and Advertising specialist, he is now expertly navigating the world of social media. A widely traveled professional internationally, Devender has a deep understanding of the Air Cargo, Cargo Business, Cargo Airports, Freighters and Cargo Industry at large.