Barloworld Logistics stands ready to meet China shippers goals in Africa

2012 03 01

AS China explores widening business opportunities in Africa, Johannesburg-based Barloworld Logistics sees itself as in the best position to provide China shippers the ways and means of achieving their goals on the rapidly developing continent.

"We see Africa as a growth point. One of the few growth points in the world apart from China, of course. So the trade between China and Africa has huge potential," said Barloworld Logistics managing director Deon Heyns, who is based in Hong Kong.

Barloworld Logistics, the exclusive handling agent for this year's Hong Kong VINEXPO, today stresses its focus of developing trade between its offices in Hong Kong, Guangzhou and Shanghai and its other big offices in South Africa and the Middle East as well as Spain.

"Our immediate focus is to develop trade routes between our own offices - strongly to Africa and South Africa and strongly to the Middle East. Spain will follow, and of course, this is supported by a whole range of agents that we have around the world with whom we work - in all the major centres of the world. We also are focused on intra-Asia trade" he said.

As a division of the 20,000-employee Barloworld corporate giant with an annual turnover of US$6.5 billion, the South African company came to Hong Kong in 2008 when it acquired Flynt International Forwarders and its subsidiaries, Flynt Shipping, COOP Freight and FETA Freight Systems.

"There were four companies that we collapsed into one," said Mr Heyns. "And as part of another acquisition in the Middle East, there were branches in China that were involved in business which did not support our long-term strategy, so we exited those."

Barloworld is in an odd position, both being a smaller player in the China logistics market while at the same time being part of a major transnational corporation with automotive businesses in Southern Africa and Australia, handling businesses in the UK, Europe, US, and Southern Africa and handles Caterpillar Equipment sales in Southern Africa, Iberia and Siberia and has had a relationship with Caterpillar and Hyster for more than 80 years.

Because of this, this Hong Kong-Shanghai forwarder is small enough to enjoy personal relationships with a shippers while possessing global resources denied to smaller players.

For the most part, Barloworld handles sea freight to southern Africa and mostly air freight to east, and increasingly to West Africa where oil production and prices are spurring economic growth. It moves everything from electronic fashion products - iPhones and the like - to furniture.

"We do air freight; we do sea freight. On sea freight we do full containers, reefers and we do LCL cargo - both import and export. And we have contracts with major airlines, so we are a master loader on the air freight side. We see Africa as a growth point. One of the few growth points in the world apart from China. So the trade between China and Africa has huge potential," he said.

As to the immediate future, Mr Heyns said: "Our strategic intent is not to become the largest freight forwarder in the world. We want to create long-term partnerships with corporate customers where we can develop specific solutions for their supply chains."

That goal, Mr Heyns said, will be achieved incrementally. To this end, Barloworld has started looking at 3PL in terms of warehousing services in Shanghai and Qingdao, as well as exploiting China's fast developing rail links to the northern parts of the country as coastal industry migrates in search of lower costs.

"Regionally we will be focusing on freight forwarding, then warehousing and distribution services, and once we have built substantial volumes and have started to identify corporate customers, we will to go to these customers and offer our capabilities in supply chain solutions 'As part of our capabilities at Barloworld Logistics, we can do much more than just 3PL services.'

"Once you tie-up with corporate clients, it is a matter of listening to their needs and aligning their supply chain to their ultimate strategy by doing things smart - not necessarily negotiating better rates and prices, but planning better and doing the whole supply chain smarter," Mr Heyns said, adding that Barloworld has the proprietary software products that will help achieve this.

Source Shipping Gazette - Daily Shipping News

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