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01 November, 2014

A seasoned player

Al-Futtaim Logistics has been a part of the logistics industry for a while now. With businesses moving ahead at an increasing pace in the country, the company is gearing up to ensure it manages to stay on top of competition when it comes to acquiring all that is coming up

Dubai, being the epicenter of business in the Middle East enjoys the bulk of the business with a significant proportion of inflow and outflow of trade. It is very important that the materials handling company makes a strong and valued contribution to industry growth

The move of its fleet operations in-house is also seen as a measure of strong confidence in Al-Futtaim Logistics' ability to gain fresh business initiatives during these difficult times, when many logistics companies have adopted a cautious approach towards development plans.

We expect to grow accordingly, and have started focusing more on fashion logistics specifically, with the aim of becoming a major logistics player in line with the growth prospects

Established materials handling companies definitely have leverage over the newer ones as they already have strong equity in the market. But at the same time, with business increasing and considering the growth factor being high, lots of new materials handling companies have emerged in the market

Expo 2020 is a major event, and clients across all sectors, have already begun to make preparations to leverage their businesses. “We expect the event to increase the visibility of Dubai, as well as of the entire region, and the number of people expected to visit will definitely help the already booming retail market. In addition to this, what we hope to experience with Expo 2020 is the growth of fashion logistics, especially in light of the fact that top fashion designers are now coming to Dubai,” says Raman Kumar, Acting Managing Director and Finance Manager, Al-Futtaim Logistics.

Although Italy and France remain the home of the fashion business, Dubai is becoming a hub, and its position in the global fashion arena is only going to become more central day by day. “When you consider the fact that the UAE is expected to host over 25 million visitors by 2020, the Emirate’s growth will be exponential for the general advantage of all. We expect to grow accordingly, and have started focusing more on fashion logistics specifically, with the aim of becoming a major logistics player in line with the growth prospects.” The recent announcement of the India Fashion Week being moved to Dubai is just an example of how close to the ground the company’s ear for business is. Here is an excerpt of the conversation GSC had with Al-Futtaim’s Kumar.

What is the current status of the materials handling business in the region?
The GCC region always has an edge over others due to the fact that it strategically connects the globe for business and with the 2020 Expo and FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar on the horizon; demand for materials handling business has noticeably increased.

How much would you say is dominated by older more established materials handling companies?
Established materials handling companies definitely have leverage over the newer ones as they already have strong equity in the market. But at the same time, with business increasing and considering the growth factor being high, lots of new materials handling companies have emerged in the market. Dubai, being the epicenter of business in the Middle East enjoys the bulk of the business with a significant proportion of inflow and outflow of trade. It is very important that the materials handling company makes a strong and valued contribution to industry growth, whilst simultaneously raising the benchmark for excellence.

Where are the industry's needs headed?
With so many players around the market, the client is spoilt with choice. Hence, to make a significant mark in the market we need to crucially address over and above the client’s expectation through reduced lead times, innovative solutions and smart customer service (which is Al-Futtaim Logistics’ particular forte). Technological upgrades to our business systems have enabled us to deal better with this expansion and effective handling. The business should always provide value added solutions with cost effective.

Could you tell us in detail about the process from start to finish about customising a solution for a potential client?
Customising our services as per the client’s requirement has always been a core area of our business. At Al-Futtaim Logistics, we are well equipped with outstanding talent and resources who advise clients and their key role is to understand the actual needs of the clients and devise a solution which is cost effective and adds value to their respective business. Al-Futtaim Logistics has implemented innovative solutions to the third party logistics industries. Al-Futtaim Logistics has received Integrated Management Systems (IMS) certification, in accordance with international industry standards, ISO 9001:2008, ISO 14001:2004 and OHSAS 18001:2007.

There are two methods in place that provides regular customer feedback across both business to business (B2B) and business to consumer (B2C) markets, as well as individual clients and the end customers. This allows us to have a very clear idea of what needs to be improved or changed in order to achieve our objectives. The B2B surveys are conducted independently by a third-party research services company. The two independent surveys research customer satisfaction at different contact levels; the first is the decision-maker, and the other, the end user. It is critical for Al-Futtaim Logistics to have feedback from customers who are decision makers, as they would have commercial interests in mind, and of course, the end user must have a sense of user efficiency. Leveraging the results of these surveys allows us to benchmark our performance and work toward exceeding customer expectations.

Moving forward, how does Al-Futtaim Logistics research the regional market to know what are the new solutions you need to start offering your clients?
Al-Futtaim Logistics invests significant time in research to evaluate the ongoing trends and demands in the market whether it is a technological advancement, or improving the range of services offered to our customers which leverages our ability to provide competitive solutions to our customers.

The GCC logistics sector represents about USD$35 billion, with the major contribution from Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Oman. In the UAE, there is an air-sea concept when it comes to logistics, whereby a company that brings a product by sea can warehouse on location. In the second leg of the journey, the product is air freighted to other destinations in Europe and the rest of the world. Sea-air shipment is growing in the region at a rapid pace due to the lead time and efficiency gains and Al-Futtaim Logistics is able to contribute to this requirement with our local presence in key ports and airport locations in the UAE. There is also growing interest in Egypt and the Levant, and our facilities at Jebel Ali is another factor that that gives us an edge to extend our offering to Middle East, North and East Africa.

Source: www.globalsupplychain.me