TBY talks to Madhav Kurup, CEO (MENA & South Asia) of Hellmann Worldwide Logistics, on solutions for the renewables sector and areas of future growth.

Madhav Kurup
Madhav Kurup holds a postgraduate degree in finance with specialization in cost accounting from the University of Kerala, India. He is a member of the advisory panel of Etihad Rail and on the board of directors of Supply Chain Logistics Group (SCLG), Dubai Chamber of Commerce, Dubai, UAE. He is also a chartered member of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT), London. He has been CEO (MENA & South Asia) of Hellmann Worldwide Logistics since 2008.

Healthcare is a key driver of your growth in the UAE. What services do you provide to the market?

We are the market leaders in healthcare logistics in the region. We provide solutions for any and all global pharmaceutical giants with Dubai acting as the hub. We work closely with the free zone and the Ministry of Health. We have expanded our healthcare facility in Dubai World Central three times, and the third and final phase has been completed in the 4Q2016. It is probably the single-largest healthcare warehouse in the region, with 25,000 pallet positions. The healthcare industry is growing fast in Dubai, especially in terms of postponement processes, which is becoming a key issue in healthcare globally. Every market is different and every market has different regulatory requirements. For manufacturers, it is difficult to customize products to suit all these different markets and regions based on their regulatory requirements; therefore, these manufacturers choose to instead postpone completion of the manufacturing process closer to the end market. The local standards entail a huge level of regulatory compliances and require similar levels of expertise, which is normally not available to your standard logistics company. Therefore, that is what we have been developing. We have done a lot of such value-added work for the Saudi Arabian market. Unfortunately, the Saudi government does not allow pharma products to come from Dubai; it has to come directly from the source. If the Saudi and Dubai governments could work together, it could open up vast opportunities across the board because Dubai's capabilities are far superior in many ways to European countries' capabilities.

What solutions have you created for the renewables sector?

Renewable energy is something we have developed globally. Our core business remains transportation, logistics, and warehousing, but we also created vertical specializations in renewable energy, fashion, automotive, healthcare, chemicals, perishables, and so on. So, we look into the unique needs of the supply chain challenges of a particular industry and create products and solutions that can deal with these. The renewables sector is developing here through Masdar initiatives in Abu Dhabi, for example. Renewable energy products have many requirements in terms of ensuring that the products reach the recipient undamaged and there are different warehousing processes that must be taken into consideration. We are looking at importing renewable energy technologies into this region from places like Germany. We intend to put more emphasis on this industry and focus on developing a solid supply chain for it.

The government is pushing for more IT solutions and digitization, moving to paperless administration, and so on. How have you followed and supported these trends?

We have a semi-automated process here in Dubai, and we do not need to invest hugely in automation because of the inexpensive labor costs. Our semi-automated structure suits our needs, and we do not intend to invest in high-tech unless it is genuinely necessary. In fashion, for example, technology makes a great deal of sense, but in automotive it does not. We manage the regional hub for Audi, VW, Ford, Toyota, and many other companies, and we are the biggest regional automotive logistics company. Some companies invest in expensive solutions because it makes them look good; however, such solutions are not always required.

What sectors are you expecting to see growth from in the coming year?

In chemicals, we are forming a new joint venture that will be announced in February or March 2017. In e-commerce, we are creating a platform in Dubai for the Middle East, which will provide e-solutions while also helping us create a fashion marketplace for emerging brands seeking to enter the Middle East market. In Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, we have our own entities. Taking our expertise in healthcare to Saudi Arabia and creating a fantastic last-mile distribution model for the country has been a great experience, and we will do the same in Kuwait as well.