May. 17, 2018


Hisham Albahar

Kuwait

Hisham Albahar

Group CEO, Posta Plus

"We became the key player in the market with our understanding of the local culture and consumer behavior."

BIO

Hisham Albahar is the Group CEO of Posta Plus and has held this position since June 2017. His roles and responsibilities include overseeing management of all stations in the Middle East, namely Kuwait, Bahrain, and the UAE as well as office facilities in Canada, the US, the UK, and China. As Group CEO, he has full management control of partner companies under the umbrella of Posta Plus Group, such as Gazal Express, National Express, and Student Center. Since he joined the company in 2013, Albahar held various positions including Regional Director, Country Director for Posta Plus’ Kuwait headquarters, and Country Manager. During his time at Posta Plus, his prominent leadership skills, paired with his high skill-set and strategic abilities, resulted in significant growth and development for the station in Kuwait. Albahar holds over 15 years of experience in the logistics industry, working with FEDEX as Ground Courier & Operations Staff, Sales Executive, and Sales Manager. He also sits on the Board of Posta Plus and is a graduate from the American University of Beirut, Lebanon.

Since the company's founding in 2005, Posta Plus has grown and developed into a diversified organization across many countries. What is the current scale of your operations?

The inception and launch of Posta Plus started in Kuwait, where we began with one thought in mind; to demonstrate a greater localization in the region and become a company that is an extension of our customer and understands and delivers their needs exactly. We provided the customers with the choice: choice in how they engaged with us, in the services we offered, and provided long-lasting relationships. During the start, we took delivery services to the next level in the areas of logistics, supply chain, and standard door-to-door delivery. Ultimately, we grew profitably in the region and expanded our presence to Bahrain, the UAE, the US, the UK, China, and Egypt, the latter a recent one. We are strategically planning to expand our presence to become the number-one logistics company within the emerging markets in the Middle East, with Saudi Arabia being our next target. This will help us diversify and also strengthen our offering to our customers in more markets. The evolution of e-commerce in the region has given us a new understanding on how to serve the markets and bring in potential customers, acknowledging the concept of localization.

Could you tell us a bit about MyBox, which Posta Plus acquired in 2008?

We acquired MyBox with the idea to bring our customers closer to the US market. The idea was to make the US online shopping experience more convenient for the customer, especially with the recent rise of e-commerce activities, globally and regionally. Statistically speaking, online shopping in the Middle East is rapidly evolving. With one of the highest global per-capita internet penetration levels and strong mobile usage, the online spending potential is quickly emerging as one of the highest compared to other regions, causing shake-ups in the logistics landscape. We are making online shopping and shipping easy. With MyBox, customers can order their desired items from the US at competitive prices using a reliable delivery solution. Our service provides customers with access to the leading e-commerce websites and allows them to track their shipments across the supply chain. Currently we are working on an additional product to MyBox, which will enhance customers' experience when shopping online.

What are some of the unique characteristics of the Kuwaiti market, and how has Posta Plus remained flexible in that environment?

We became the key player in the market with our understanding of the local culture and consumer behavior. We started by offering solutions that would be more convenient for the Kuwaiti market, knowing that Kuwaitis and the people who live here value their time. They are also extremely mobile—they do not like to stay in one place. To reach out to these customers, we always make sure to be available to complete deliveries at a convenient time, subject to the customers' availability. We have also developed an innovative solution very unique to our region that allows customers to avoid paying online. People in this region prefer to receive the product before they pay as they are reluctant to share their credit card details. In such cases cash on delivery has become the most preferred method of payment, accounting for about 75% of online orders.

Which markets are more important for Posta Plus currently?

Kuwait and the UAE remain our priority markets in the region. The UAE, being the regional and international hub, allows us to build our network and expand our client base across various other countries in the region, including Kuwait. With our presence in the US and China, we easily connect GCC customers with these two economic giants in the world, acquiring more market share for their international business. Once we strengthen our existence in the UAE market, we are confident that it will present various business opportunities in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and other potential focus areas.

Posta Plus acquired National Express in 2014. Does Posta Plus foresee more partnerships in the near future?

We are keen to go the extra mile and build strong strategic partnerships, driven by want rather than by need. We understand the role and value of collaboration in the logistics industry and are constantly building alliances with other major conglomerates across borders which are helping us to expand more rapidly. Most recently, we formed an alliance with an Egyptian partner that will allow our presence in the Egyptian market. We have also partnered with Qatar since Kuwait is one of the countries that still cooperate strongly with Qatar. This allows us to ship packages to and from Qatar at competitive prices. In addition, we also have a partner in Saudi Arabia now, which will be the starting point to a more promising alliance. One of our exciting project is establishing an alliance with Turkey, which is geographically strategic for Posta Plus. In Turkey, the language is both an opportunity and a challenge. For example, the largest Turkish websites do not offer English-language options—they are purely in Turkish. We believe we should tackle that space and make it easier for people to access the Turkish market at their own convenience. Turkish products are cost friendly and of high quality. We already have a presence there through a company operating at a minimal level, and we look forward to becoming more prominent there soon.

According to the WTO, global trade is expected to increase by up to 4% in 2018. Will this positive forecast affect your business?

This figure refers to global trade in all business sectors; the logistics sector could see double-digit growth. In fact, we anticipate massive growth until 2025. This is one of the strong reasons we recognize the importance of investing heavily in the region and forming strong alliances across various global locations. With the e-commerce explosion in 2016 and triple growth rate, we have big plans and ambitions that will allow us to keep up with the market growth and innovate our services to fit our customers' preferences at all times. We look forward to updating the market about our initiatives in due course.

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