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Kazakhstan 2014 | TRANSPORT | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Vladimir Yatchenko, Country Manager of DHL Express, on demand for the company's services, the Customs Union, and customer satisfaction.

Vladimir Yatchenko
BIOGRAPHY
Vladimir Yatchenko is Country Manager of DHL Express in Kazakhstan.

How has DHL Express grown and developed over the past 18 months?

VLADIMIR YATCHENKO Business is good here, and we are growing at a rate of 22%, which is well above the growth of the transportation index and the air freight growth statistics provided by the Ministry of Finance.

Have you seen a higher demand for DHL Express' services?

We have seen strong growth in Almaty, Astana, and surprisingly in Aktau, as well as in Shymkent. If you look at cities like Ust-Kamenogorsk (Oskemen), where there is a lot of non-ferrous metal production, they are struggling. Meanwhile, Karaganda and Temirtau are seeing a slowdown. I assume that is because the Chinese are not importing as much steel; hence, there is a slowdown in Kazakh steel exports.

How has the opening of DHL's new Service Center near Almaty airport improved its ability to service its customers?

We have tripled our capacity, and eliminated bottlenecks in terms of our ability to process shipments.

“ Since 2008, we have doubled our turnover in Kazakhstan, even during the global financial crisis period. "

How has the Customs Union benefited DHL?

Among our key trade lanes, Russia is growing rapidly, and is by far the largest portion of our international business today. What we see is a slowdown in countries such as Italy, and I think that is on the back of the Kashagan Field starting to come online, as there had been many Italian companies involved in the initial set up. The Customs Union is good for us, as we can now provide an overnight service from Astana and Atyrau to Moscow, which is a market-leading service. Most of our international competitors still deliver via Europe.

How does DHL differentiate itself from its competitors?

I believe that for our customers, what is important is our footprint in the country. What you find is that we are in 21 cities, and you perceive a uniform DHL feel nationwide. In Astana, we have a relatively small operation in the larger scheme of things. However, it is the largest in the city and continues to grow. We invested three years ago, and are now operating at 100% capacity, and will now need to reinvest in facilities in Astana to efficiently process the business volume. Obviously, along with that come all the challenges of technology, people, and processes, for example. Any company can buy vehicles and say “we are a transportation company." However, only a few companies have their own network, and in Kazakhstan DHL has three. We have the widest coverage, the best transit time among other courier companies, and the widest product portfolio. This allows us to absolutely satisfy any customer expectation and demand in Kazakhstan in terms of the fastest possible delivery. Our biggest advantage is the presence of the international network, because we tie directly into it, which is perfect for us. In terms of the oil and gas industry, we are the only company that uses Atyrau as a gateway, which is important. We have our own bonded warehouse and facility, whereas everyone else has to use the airport bonded warehouse and facility. We have the ability to get our goods cleared at DHL, which is important. It speeds up the whole process and also provides us with better control, which obviously satisfies our customers. What you will find is that most of the throughput going to TCO will reach our warehouse. DHL is now among the top-500 Kazakhstani companies in terms of logistics and size of business, and is the only transportation company to have made this list.

Where does Kazakhstan fit in to DHL's regional strategy?

Among the CIS and Southeast European countries, such as Serbia, Macedonia, and Croatia, DHL Kazakhstan ranks second after Russia in terms of size of business, despite a population of just 17 million. Kazakhstan is, therefore, important for international business as a prominent investment address. Since 2008, we have doubled our turnover in Kazakhstan, even during the global financial crisis period, and today have more than 5,000 regular customers, practically all being international companies. DHL is effectively a barometer of a country's economic health.

How crucial is employee development to DHL Kazakhstan's success?

People are important, especially for our production platforms. We have back office people such as myself, but the people that make the difference in our business are our couriers, and those processing shipments and getting packages to aircraft. Last, but not least, is our customer service team, which is involved in interacting with customers and problem solving for clients. In relation to this, with both a global and local perspective, we have a program called Certified International Specialist. It allows all our people around the world to unify their knowledge and skills. This is because we pursue the same procedures in all markets, using the same equipment and technology. Our courier could easily be transferred from Kazakhstan to Rio de Janeiro—they would have absolutely no difficulties in making a pick-up and delivery. Within DHL's borders, this isn't difficult to do.

How is DHL helping companies achieve emissions reductions targets?

We operate a fleet of 90 pick-up and delivery vehicles. With the type of vehicle that we purchase, the focus is clearly on CO2 emissions. We work in step with our supplier, and when procuring vehicles we opt for the most advanced European-type vehicles that can run on Kazakhstani fuel. Secondly, we consider our carbon footprint with each investment. Lighting and energy consumption also present reduction targets for us.