What role does Oman play for the company, and how will setting up base in Oman help APL Logistics move forward?
When we entered the country in 2003, we partnered with an agent that would help our businesses move forward. We were doing purchase orders for it out of Walmart because it has a fairly large portion of retail business across the globe and at the time used to manufacture and source from Oman. We were interested in growing in the country, and our JV partners approached us to make the brand more visible at a time when the country was promoting supply chains and the creation of a logistics hub in Oman. The geopolitical environment in Oman is excellent; it is in a great location, there is a stable government, and it is an incredibly safe country. The government is currently promoting trade and Oman as a logistics hub, and we are fortunate given our global expertise in regard to trade. We have four main verticals—automotive, consumer, industrial, and retail—and we find them to fit well with Oman. Nevertheless, most of the retail segment is still serviced out of neighboring countries.
How has the demand for your services evolved in the past few years in Oman?
We have received several requests for global business opportunities, although we have only been in trade since July 2017. There is a great deal of multi-party communication that gets added to a supply chain, which adds great complexity to doing business. This is exactly how APLL has helped its customers from Oman, fulfilling all their needs like a door-to-door service. Customers, unfortunately, have always been at the mercy of traders, believing they will service them with no actual guarantee. Now, in order for customers to benefit in terms of supply chain, it is always better for them to control their own costs. The way to do so is by choosing a company such as APL Logistics that will manage their cost from end to end. We give customers market visibility, and with our network and tie-ups with large shipping lines there are various additional benefits we can provide. APLL can go to multiple shipping lines, and not just rely on one; at the end of the day, what APLL brings to the table is its manpower and technology.
How will the creation of ASYAD impact your progress in Oman?
ASYAD is a great initiative created by the Ministry of Transport because it gives companies a body to look up to. It will set up many visible steps, such as working committees, which will strongly impact the market in the coming years. I am personally part of these committees and, given the lean state facilitation in regard to logistics, projects such as these will better evolve in the future. ASYAD's entry into the market will also help organize all available integrated solutions and help bring the required stakeholders in to fulfill this integration.
What are your main objectives as a company for 2018?
Our focus will be on marketing our brand. Secondly, we will continue to promote many solutions for the supply chain segment that were missing in the Omani market. There will be a huge focus in 2018 on promoting our end-to-end solutions in terms of technology, people, and the knowledge that we bring to the table, especially throughout our four verticals. There is currently a great deal of government promotion going into the retail sector, which is mainly tourism; when the Mall of Oman opens, we will bring a great deal of experience to the table in terms of running retail visibility. We have the capability and experience to manage large regional hubs in terms of running warehousing, contract logistics, and distribution operations.