Industry Should Focus On Creating Value, Says DHL Express India MD RS Subramanian

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DHL Express India, the logistics, package delivery, e-commerce shipping and international supply chain management unit of Deutsche Post DHL Group, said it will continue to invest in India to exploit growth opportunities. RS Subramanian, Senior Vice President and General Manager of DHL Express India shares insight for industry and business. Extracts:

What was the experience at the height of the pandemic?

Logistics will not go away. Essential services are essential. Goods and PPE kits had to be delivered. There are so many companies that are in the essential sector, whether it is hospitals, life sciences, pharmaceutical companies and all the auxiliaries that support them. All had to be operational and therefore the logistics industry was called upon to provide this support.

The challenges on the ground were very numerous in terms of controls at the level of cities, municipalities and neighborhoods. There were red areas. A lot of clients were working from home and we had to coordinate with them for delivery.

But I think from then in a month or two later [in 2020], the rebound in weak volumes from April to May and June was very, very strong.

So we’ve seen historic lows and highs since then, and the rebound has been very, very strong. The trade recovery was quite good across all sectors around the second half of 2020 and this momentum continued into 2021.

How do you see the future?

The return of companies is therefore strong, in this sense, 2021 is a very strong year compared to 2020. There will be a recovery of companies in all sectors. High volumes and greater trading capacity as well as further expansions and relocations will continue. We aim to take a digital and paperless approach.

How much have you invested in India?

The company has announced that it will invest 690 million euros between 2020 and 2022 to build and expand its facilities in key growth markets of Australia, Japan, Hong Kong SAR and South Korea.

In 2017, it invested 14 million euros in the expansion and relocation and the establishment of new bases in various locations in India.

In 2018 and 2019, respectively 1.7 million euros and 3.2 million euros were invested. In 2020, we invested 3 million euros and 56 million euros in 2021 in India.

What’s your investment plan here?

There hasn’t been a single month we haven’t invested. Almost every month we did something or the other. IT, expansion, staff training are some of our main areas of investment. Every month or two, you’ll hear about something or the other coming up.

What are your expectations for 2022 and what are the challenges?

India is a very good market for business. There are all the signs for good business here. COVID is not over yet. Ensuring the safety of our employees is the top priority. I believe the logistics industry will focus on simplifying, digitizing and automating business processes.

What is your ESG roadmap?

We have switched to the ESG framework. By 2050, we want to be a carbon neutral system. Our network is full of carbon and we have to work hard to minimize it.

There is a variety of work that is done across the network. We want to go paperless and move to a digital approach. We have been proud to have received the “Great Place to Work” certification in India and around the world for many years now. We will continue to value our employees.

How was 2021 in terms of activity?

2021 has been great from a business perspective in terms of results. Globally, the numbers have been excellent, its all-time high in 2020.

That’s maybe 30% higher than what we did in 2019, so on a like-for-like basis, that’s the kind of activity levels we’re seeing. The momentum has been good in Q1, Q2 and Q3 globally, so it’s a very strong position. We started with a five-year strategy document to deliver excellence in a very digital world that is looming and I think we’ve been extremely successful in that direction.

The performance of the business in India was just as superior to what we are seeing globally.

2021 has been a very, very good year. Part of it is due to the base effect of 2020, but towards the end of 2020, the second half of 2020, we were very, very successful.

Our people-centered approach that takes care of employees by providing them with medical facilities, free vaccination, IT support for a better work-from-home experience, has allowed them to work efficiently. We have also maintained a close bond with our customers.

The Center seeks to reduce logistics costs for businesses. Is the cost going down and helping SMEs?

Industry should focus on creating value. Customer satisfaction must be the priority.

One of the biggest trends amid the pandemic was e-commerce.

There was a B2C boom because the style and delivery channels were changing. SMEs need to understand this change.

We have introduced the “Yellow Yatra” plan under which we provide financial assistance to SMEs and act as an advisory body for them.

We have developed a “GoTrade” platform where SMEs can use it to trade their products and make their mark on the global map.


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