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Centre Point Logistics is heading towards a period of significant growth in the Middle East, reinforced by its recent partnership with Seko, explains managing director Brent Pearson.
What services does the Centre Point Logistics Group provide its customers in the Middle East?
The Centre Point Logistics (CPL) Group is owned by Saleh Saeed Lootah Holdings and consists of three different entities that combine to provide a broad spectrum of supply chain services and consulting. We would certainly encourage a rail network in Dubai, which would have a big impact on the efficiency of operations over here. CPL Sensis is the first entity and specialises in consultancy and management services, while the second entity, CPL Warehousing, handles warehouse construction and real estate development. Finally, we have Seko Sensis, which is a strategic partnership between Seko Worldwide and CPL Sensis, offering a complete portfolio of warehouse and freight management services.
How do you think Centre Point Logistics benefits from being part of Saleh Saeed Lootah Holdings?
Saleh Saeed Lootah Holdings is involved in a wide range of businesses including real estate, insurance, financial services, facilities management and, of course, logistics. As a result, we have direct access to a diverse network of managerial expertise, which enables us to share our individual experiences. This network extends even further to the broader SS Lootah group of companies.
Seko Worldwide is a recognised brand in the global logistics industry. How was the partnership established with the CPL Group?
Seko Worldwide has a solid presence in many parts of the world and wanted to boost its operations in the Middle East. The logistics industry in this region is growing at a rapid pace and has attracted a lot of attention from international players. We discussed the possibility of taking over the Seko franchise over here and had to submit our plans for developing the brand throughout this region. Since finalising the partnership, I deal very closely with senior management at Seko and update them on progress. The company has already established a significant amount of business in the Middle East, including some work for the US military, and we hope to experience further growth with them in the future.
Are you facing any particular challenges in terms of business growth in the Middle East?
I would say the infrastructure is one of the main issues in this region. You can visit Emirates Road in Dubai to witness some of the problems. In addition, one of the things we would certainly encourage is a rail network in Dubai. This would have a big impact on the efficiency of operations over here and you wouldn't need so many drivers or trucks on the roads. Tracks could be built to link Dubai to some of the northern emirates or running directly to the port in Sharjah.
Do you have any development plans in the pipeline?
The parent organisation, Saleh Saeed Lootah Holdings, is investinga significant amount of money to construct a large facility in Jebel Ali Free Zone. It's currently around two years from completion, but the plot is two million square feet, making it the biggest in the Gulf that I'm aware of. It will consist of 15 separate chambers and will have separate AC control. SS Lootah Constructions is constructing the facility, so it's all tied in with the operations of the parent group. To fill up a depot that large when you are a start-up is obviously a huge challenge, so realistically you've got to look at a 4PL model. We are also looking to purchase another warehouse in Jebel Ali at around 100,000 square feet. Because of the level of demand, if I had that warehouse tomorrow it would be 100% filled.
Will you expand your operations outside of Dubai?
When we first started, we had a grand plan with a list of markets that we wanted to enter. However, we have pushed back to a certain extent because we need to get the basics right and develop our own way of doing things. In the future, we are looking at Oman, since we have a local customer who would basically be our base client. Though initially small, our operations could easily be grown over there. We are also looking to expand in other emirates such as Abu Dhabi, while Jordan is very interesting because Saleh Saeed Lootah Holdings has a lot of contacts in the country. Qatar and Egypt are other markets of interest.