Jan. 14, 2020

Claus Lassen


Claus Lassen

Managing Director, DHL Express Turkey

After Leipzig, DHL has plans for Turkey to be a major sub-hub in the region, which is why it is investing EUR135 million in a new 42,000-sqm building using the latest green technology at the new airport.


Claus Lassen has been in the logistics industry for more than 30 years. Starting his carrier at DHL Express Denmark, he worked in various functional and management positions in product management, marketing, and sales. After working as the managing director of DHL Express Denmark for seven years, he was appointed DHL Express Turkey CEO in 2017. Lassen speaks four languages and has a BA in business administration and an MA in economics and marketing from the Copenhagen School of Business.

How will the opening of the new Istanbul Airport impact your operations?
The new airport is key for us, logistics-wise. From an investment point of view, for DHL the airport will start the largest project we have ever had in the country. It has the right location for our business as a hub and is a way for us to grow new trade links. 60 countries and 120 destinations can be reached within a three-hour flight from the airport. DHL has been present in Turkey since 1981, and we are a market leader—with more than 53% of the market—and first mover in many areas. For the DHL group, Turkey is an emerging market. It has a clear road map whereby it wants to increase its revenue share from 22 to 30% over the years. We are one of the 11 countries within the DHL group nominated as an investment area. As a result of this, and because of the new airport, we are going to invest in a 42,000-sqm building located at the new airport. It will be a EUR135-million investment with a green build set up using the latest technologies. While DHL's main hub in Europe is Leipzig, we see Turkey as being a major sub-hub in the future.

How do you see the transition from Atatürk to the new Istanbul Airport?
As a transition, going from Atatürk to the new airport is a big step; however, this is not new to us. DHL has transitioned many times before. For Turkey, it is new. But those working with us are a global team that know what to do from an experience point of view.

Which regions are using DHL Express Turkey the most?
Most of our shipments go to Europe. We follow the patterns of the Turkish economy as we are facilitators of trade. Whatever happens in Turkey is reflected in our capabilities. With DHL present in 220 countries and territories, our trade is spread out, but we are centralized in Europe. That is why our Turkish operations are key. Germany is one of our biggest destinations inside Europe. Outside of it, we see tremendous growth in the US and in new areas as a result of e-commerce.

What impact has e-commerce had on your operations?
E-commerce has significantly changed our operations. We are traditionally a B2B company, picking up and delivering shipments during work hours. For the last five years, when e-commerce began booming, we have seen our e-commerce volumes in Turkey grow by 63% YoY. The global e-commerce market will likely have gone from USD300 billion in 2015 to USD1 trillion by 2020. Our operations have to adapt to changing customer needs, which are much more immediate nowadays. To accommodate, we had to invest heavily in our capabilities. Hubs and gateways can ensure demand can be met, and new technology here is key to meeting customer demands for flexibility and choices. Choice is essential to this industry, and data is essential to knowing our customers, providing options, and having availability, all so that you can get to the right destination as soon as possible. We are also finding that e-commerce is making us focus more on speed than capacity.

What challenges do you face in Turkey?
From the simplest perspective, Istanbul is massive; therefore, logistically it is difficult. Our couriers are tough and knowledgeable. They have the technology to route deliveries effectively. That being said, Istanbul's size gives us plenty of opportunities.