Interview: Frank Courtney, Barloworld Logistics

BWL's CEO for EMEA region talks about his firm's Middle East growth.
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As business lifeblood, logistics has become pivotal to the rapid growth of many Middle Eastern countries. The region’s huge infrastructure investments, resilient and robust economies, and exceptional local government support for logistics services have attracted numerous players from the global transportation and logistics industry. Covering multi-modal transport and freight, supply chain management and warehousing; the Middle Eastern transport and logistics sector has been posting double-digit growth over the past few years. The region’s transport and logistics business not only exhibits solid growth rates, but also generates acceptable operating margins.

There are four distinct factors that paint a bright picture for the future of logistics in the Middle East: solid economic growth coupled with solid investments in local production; low logistics outsourcing levels; the emergence of regional distribution and logistics headquarters in the region; and the rise of global logistics hubs in strategic locations such as Dubai. One important facet of the industry’s sustained growth is the availability of reliable logistics providers that can meet the challenges of an evolving global business and economic environment within the regional context of doing business.

“The Middle East is an appealing logistics market that needs solid players to come in and give proper direction and support to the growing industry. It is important that enterprise supply chains are well-aligned to the business strategy; this can be achieved by partnering with a proven logistics service provider who can design, plan, deploy and manage advanced supply chain solutions that can make the organisation more competitive, productive and effective,” says Frank Courtney, chief executive for EMEA region, Barloworld Logistics.

With dozens of logistics firms scrambling to capitalise on the thriving Middle Eastern markets, Barloworld Logistics sets itself apart from the rest via innovative, performance-oriented solutions that are lean and integrated with existing customer systems. Barloworld Logistics, part of the 110-year-old Barloworld Group, is a multinational corporation providing smart logistics solutions including integrated rental, fleet management and product support . It has been steadily expanding its Middle Eastern base through quality regional offerings that include inter alia Smart Supply Chain Solutions, Freight Forwarding, and Warehousing and Distribution.

The UAE is currently at the core of Barloworld Logistics’ activities in the EMEA area, housing a regional HQ that communicates with offices in Madrid, Germany, Johannesburg, China and Hong Kong. The Middle East offices oversee clearance licenses, customs accreditation, corporate and sales and marketing, operations, warehouses as well as contacts with shipping-lines and airlines. There are four warehouses with a total capacity of over 23,000 pallet positions capable of storing dry (ambient) and temperature-sensitive cargos from 18C to 22C.

Barloworld Logistics points to differentiation as the key to its success in the Middle East. The company is gaining a strong reputation regionally for its exceptional ability to strategically align the supply chain to business goals, tailor solutions to customer needs via a ‘blank page’ innovation approach, and integrating various solutions. Another unique strength of Barloworld is its ability to combine its expertise in various areas such as Supply Chain Management, Supply Chain Software, Freight Management and Dedicated Transport Management to offer a fully integrated solution to its clients. Moreover, the company’s extensive network of offices in strategic locations such as UAE, South Africa, Hong Kong, China, Germany and Iberia accommodates smooth and broad movement of services.

“Value is the order of the day as far as businesses are concerned. It is no longer enough to offer typical services; a provider needs to have a unique, comprehensive menu of logistics offerings that can give a genuine edge to an enterprise. Considering today’s highly competitive and rapidly evolving markets, sound business tactics will not be enough; enterprises will need to have strong logistics procedures in place just to stay in the game. The advantage will lie in the ability to flex your supply chain to meet changes in the market and a culture of continual improvement. What was considered innovative yesterday is a commodity today, unless businesses are continually looking for improvement and innovation the market will leave them behind. As seasoned veterans, we are making sure that the Middle East has the right support in place to become a global model of logistics management and sustain its growth as a commercial hub,” adds Courtney.

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