Pursuing progress: In Conversation with Madhav Kurup, regional CEO, Hellmann Worldwide Logistics
German logistics services company Hellmann Worldwide Logistics has made great inroads in the region in the past two years. We speak to Madhav Kurup, CEO for Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia on the firm’s success in the region
Hellmann Worldwide Logistics has been riding a positive wave for the past decade in the region, however in the last two years the logistics company is undergoing a major transformation with eCommerce and digitalisation at the centre.
Last year, Hellmann established a firm footing in sea and air solutions and boosted its warehousing footprint across the globe offering services to specialised sectors such as healthcare, automotive, fashion, FMCG, industrial chemicals, and oil and gas.
Madhav says: “We are happy with the growth in our business in 2021 and so far in 2022 with a clear focus on ensuring positive employee and customer retention. Our new operations in Egypt and Oman have also started very well and we are humbled to have a professional and experienced team of more than 1,900 personnel covering all areas in the region.”
The countries Madhav manages include Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, Oman, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka, and it his endeavour to establish Hellmann as not just a comprehensive logistics solutions provider with industry specialisation, but truly an employer of choice and strategic partner for Hellmann customers in the region.
With Hellmann’s recently expanded in Egypt and Oman, he tells us about the potential the firm sees in these countries. “The process of setting up the company in these markets started in mid-2020 with a dedicated interdisciplinary team working on creating operating processes and systems using our globally standardised practices,” Madhav explains.
“Now, in both countries, all systems are fully implemented, processes are in place, and we are fortunate to have attracted the best talents in the market. Our team is roaring to go and establish ourselves as a preferred service partner in the market.”
Within Oman, Hellmann has so far opened offices in Muscat and Sohar, and for Egypt in Cairo, Ain Sokhna and Alexandria with full customs brokerage solutions.
He adds: “Frankly, we were cautious in our first-year planning for these new countries, however, the positive leadership of both the countries and supporting functions from the regional office in Dubai has allowed us to perform beyond our expectations. We are pleased with the accomplishments of our people following which our performance in 2021 has been very positive.”
“Our people, our industry solutions and integrated visibility systems, and most importantly our customers who partner with Hellmann are creating value in their supply chains. Opening in Oman and in Egypt has greatly strengthens our regional solutions for our customers.”
End-to-end warehousing solutions
The company is also focused on expanding its warehousing solutions across the region. It now has more than 3 million sqft of warehousing space in the Middle East and South Asia.
He notes: “Our core focus revolves on ensuring true customer values and added solutions are pursued in all products across our warehousing offering. We aim to create specific niche solutions around the verticals of healthcare, automotive, fashion, FMCG, and the industrial chemicals industry.”
The company is catering industry-focussed solutions such as quality control within fashion, fully compliant good storage practices in healthcare, as well as automotive air bag, dangerous goods, and highly inflammable chemical storage solutions. The company boasts licensed and approved facilities that can be adopted to suit the needs of various industries.
Madhav reveals: “We’re leveraging the adoption of special warehouse design solutions that cater to a range of industry specific demands. This is truly an advantage to boast of, as we also have great teams working closely together with a high focus on customer solutions that possess tried and tested results, and these solutions can be leveraged to support our new customers. Our continuous improvement programmes persist to excite us year-after-year with great concepts that support us in truly improving our existing customers supply chains.”
Along with providing warehousing solutions to specialised industries, Hellmann is expanding its eCommerce storage offerings, especially since the pandemic as demand across several business verticals have moved from instore buying to online shopping.
To cope with the eCommerce boom and increase in demand for warehousing and fulfilment services, Hellmann got into a strategic partnership with Dubai CommerCity to manage and operate a shared, multi-client warehouse within the logistics cluster of the eCommerce free zone. This has created a go-to hub for businesses looking to start their eCommerce journey.
“Online orders are now higher than we envisioned prior to the pandemic. Through our strategic partnership with Dubai CommerCity and DHL Express, we provide one-stop-solution for all our customers. The collaboration has created solutions to provide a seamless experience in customer onboarding and introduce new solutions that add value to the customers’ business,” Madhav notes.
He adds: “At Hellmann, we aim to offer complete eCommerce solutions. We are deeply involved in our customers’ business plans and help them achieve their goals. We have the aptitude to take on the digital journey. Our journey with eCommerce started 10 years ago which helps us to understand the whole value chain.”
Thanks to the eCommerce surge, multiple sectors have seen an agile growth in business. Hellmann has witnessed a growth in business from the health and safety industry. “These products are being purchased far faster than they can be produced and restocked,” he shares.
“We’ve also seen an impressive demand in the sports and fitness sector, as people are choosing to exercise at home. External fitness options are no longer the only choice. Few other thriving sectors are shelf-stable goods, food and beverage, and last but not least fashion. There is an increase in eCommerce sites that cater to these sectors,” he discloses.
“We aim to provide end-to-end warehousing and fulfilment services including solutions such as order management systems, streamlined customs clearance processes and premium last-mile service.”
Digitalisation and enhanced offerings
To facilitate these offerings and enable transparency, Hellmann is championing digitalisation across its business in the region. Madhav shares: “Within the region we created new systems tools to support customer visibility with our ‘smart’ solutions and developed a specialised customs brokerage software which minimises risk and improves speed in data entry into the various customs systems in the region whilst ensuring the highest data quality.”
He adds: “Technology changes and shapes our world not just every decade, but every year we see increased capabilities for greater enhancements to be more proactive and support our customers with exception monitoring, state-of-the-art infrastructure, and additional streamlined business approaches. We have globally increased resources in our digital teams for new tools that will benefit our customers and employees.”
In 2021, Hellmann revamped its global transportation management system across the globe to ensure data visibility and controls are at the highest level for the next years. “We have successfully launched our new global transportation management system in several countries around the world and in Oman and will shall follow soon in the remaining Middle East & South Asia countries,” Madhav discloses.
Overall, Madhav is quite satisfied with Hellmann’s performance in the region. He notes: “We have achieved market leadership in the automotive, healthcare and fashion verticals through our state-of-the-art infrastructure, globally bench-marked systems and, most importantly, best in class specialised resources.”
“We have always been a trend-setter in the market with innovative and out-of-the-box strategies to drive our growth in the MESA region. I like to think that we have taken Hellmann, over the last ten years, from a small transactional freight forwarder to now stand among the top five fully integrated service providers.”
He concludes: “Hellmann is all about adding ease and efficiency in our customer supply chains, which is why we will offer advanced solutions later this year in the FMCG and industrial sector. There are many unique solutions that are needed moving past the typical handling of air, sea, land, and warehousing, and we aim to provide that to the market to support our customers being even more successful.”