Following its foray into Saudi Arabia in 2013, Hellmann Worldwide Logistics has since made deep inroads into the Kingdom, with a good track record and an expanded workforce.
Global Supply Chain conducted an exclusive interview with Lars Nielsen, Managing Director, Hellmann Worldwide Logistics, Saudi Arabia, who spoke expansively about the company’s origins, growth over the span of eight years since its inception and outlook for the future.
Global Supply Chain (GSC): Give the sense of the scale and size of Hellmann Worldwide Logistics’ operations in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and for how long has the company been functioning there?
Lars Nielsen (LN): We opened our first office back in 2013 on a very small scale and I recall personally getting involved in operations, which back then only consisted of only one person.
We have grown exponentially since then and currently employ more than 150 people covering 12 locations kingdom-wide with concrete plans to more than double the number of employees by 2022.
GSC: How significant is Saudi Arabia for Hellmann?
LN: Saudi Arabia is still at early stages for Hellmann when compared to its potential, but we see Saudi Arabia as one of our key drivers for growth within the Middle East and North Africa region.
GSC: What is the scope of service offerings to your Saudi clients and what industry verticals do these represent?
LN: We cover the full range of freight forwarding services from global logistics to local handling and in our CLC (Contract Logistics & Consulting) business unit we complete our clients’ supply chain with warehousing, value-added services and last-mile distribution. We do business with all industries but with a strong focus on healthcare, automotive, FMCG and latest within e-commerce too.
GSC: How did you fare in 2020, Q1-2021 and what is your assessment for 2021?
LN: Growth was in line with budget, and I expect 2021 to exceed expectations and previous years’ results.
GSC: Tell us more about your recent JVs in the Kingdom?
LN: At this stage we have signed a MoU to explore a potential formation of a JV specialized in Healthcare Logistics within KSA and we are working on the details to make this a reality in near future.
A dedicated entity for Healthcare Logistics in KSA will be unique and the first of its kind where combining local and international capabilities will make us market leaders overnight in a market demanding international quality standards and kingdom-wide coverage.
GSC: What are the opportunities and challenges for Hellmann in KSA going forward?
LN: We have a clear path laid out wherein we expect to capitalize on the known opportunities in our industry, but the biggest opportunity is the fact that we operate in a country going through massive changes at a continuously increasing pace.
The ability to foresee the impact of these changes will become the biggest opportunity for Hellmann in Saudi Arabia and we are constantly aligning with senior stakeholders to ensure we will be first movers and stay ahead of competition.
Most challenges can be converted to opportunities and this is especially true when it comes to change in Government regulations where our relatively flat organization remains agile and adaptable.
GSC: What are your expansion plans for the short- and long-term futures?
LN: We expect a significant organic growth as we have invested heavily into Customer Service and Account Management bringing us to, and above, the level our customers expect from us. However, we are always on the lookout for new ventures, so time will tell.
GSC: Saudi Vision 2030 has made the logistics and supply chain and transportation infrastructure the centerpiece of the Kingdom’s economy…. how will it boost the logistics sector in the country.
LN: The effect of Government initiatives is already having a significant impact in for example Customs and various industry regulatory bodies. Processes are automated, inspections routines change, product registration process is simplified and many more – all this creates a more agile logistics eco system where the end result is cost savings and increased service levels for our customers.
Years ago, Saudi Arabia stated its intentions to improve its ranking on the Logistics index and there is action behind those words – we can see the change all around us and there is no doubt in my mind that Saudi Arabia is becoming increasingly important in the regional and perhaps global logistics landscape.
GSC: There has been substantial investment in the Kingdom’s new seaports / airports / transportation sector. What are the repercussions for the logistics sector of these moves?
LN: Improved service levels, higher safety standards and a large range of new solutions, just to name a few. However, I believe the most significant of them all is the investment into Free Zones all over the Kingdom and they are rapidly becoming a reality in Saudi Arabia.
This comes with a wide range of benefits for the customers here and most likely also for the region and in particular North Africa / Red Sea.
GSC: What is your vision for Hellmann in Saudi Arabia going forward?
LN: First People First!! People will be a priority always. We will continue to put our customers, vendors and our own employees first as this has proven a successful recipe to build the relationship on which our business is based today.
Hellmann will cement its position as a household name for 3PL services and continue to expand our service offerings in specialized industry verticals. Our current growth trajectory is incredibly steep, and we are still only at the beginning of the curve so I definitely envision that we expand our position as market leaders.