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Jim Davis calls it a day as IMIF turns 40

Jim Davis calls it a day as IMIF turns 40
It seemed like the end of an era at the 40th anniversary dinner of the International Maritime Industries Forum in London this week.

Jim Davis, the former P&O director turned shipping sage who has steered the organisation almost since its inception, finished his speech by announcing that aged 88 it was ‘time to give up a few things’, his chairmanship of the IMIF included.

The 300 assembled IMIF members and guests, suitably bedecked in ruby-coloured finery to mark the occasion, then rose to their feet to afford ‘gentleman Jim’ a standing ovation as he stepped down from the podium.

Earlier lawyer Harry Theochari of Norton Rose Fulbright, also vice-chairman of Maritime London, had paid tribute to Davis as both a “legend” and “most importantly a good man”, whose advice was always sought and implicitly trusted by some of the great figures in shipping.

IMIF had been formed back in the late 1970s against a backdrop of “unprecedented tonnage oversupply, excess shipbuilding capacity, lack of [shipping] finance and general pessimism – does it sound familiar?” he quipped.

The shipping industry had “enormous problems to solve” at that time and seemed hell-bent on self-destruction, Davis himself recalled, “so something needed to be done”. The IMIF was therefore put in place as a “short-term solution” that might bring all the different industry player together to try and find a common solution, on the principle “we all sink or swim together.”

Forty years on and shipping’s problems may appear unchanged, but at least it has survived – and at times greatly prospered – thanks in no small part to the support of industry pillars such as the IMIF and its chairman Jim Davis.