DOOR TO DOOR

Lebanon 2016 | TRANSPORT | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to John Chedid, Country Manager of DHL, on how the company is increasingly tailoring solutions to fit the market and the primacy of flexibility and willingness to help during difficult times.

John Chedid
BIOGRAPHY
John Chedid began work with DHL in 1991 as a business development manager and became country manager in 1997.

What have been some milestones for DHL in Lebanon in the past year?

The most important milestone is the increased frequency of DHL flights into Lebanon, which has gone from three to five flights per week. DHL now flies a Boeing 757 freighter into Beirut from Tuesday to Saturday. This provides us with further control of our operational platform and our customers with later cut-off times and better transit times. The recent increase in DHL flights has not only improved our core Time Definite service offering, or what is commonly referred to as our “courier" service, but it has also improved Economy Select service levels. Economy Select is a service designed for shipments over 150kg that do not require a next day or second day transit time. Whether a customer is sending a document, a spare part, or a two-ton order of electrical components, they are all transported on our own network, fully DHL owned and managed.

The closure of the Syrian border has created opportunities for businesses in Lebanon. What have been the benefits for DHL in particular?

The closure of the border in Syria is the result of a tragic conflict and any “opportunity" is overshadowed by this tragedy. We have seen some increased activity from the Syrian business people who have relocated to Lebanon and the increase in shipments transiting the airport but we hope these customers will soon be able to return home. In the meantime, we will do our best to provide solutions that ensure business continuity for them.

What have been the major benefits from the Beirut Free Zone for DHL?

Our free zone operation in Lebanon serves customers who want to bring their goods into the country by sea to be re-exported or distributed throughout the region by air. Due to the prevailing situation in the region we have not seen many customers setting up their distribution networks out of Lebanon. Our free zone operation is underutilized but we still see great potential in Lebanon's role as a redistribution center. Over time, I am sure this part of our business will grow and become more profitable.

How feasible is the idea that Lebanon can become a regional logistics hub?

We have always said that Lebanon has the know-how, the human resources, and the geographical location. We now have better infrastructure as a result of the extensive investment in the Port of Beirut, and a new state-of-the-art cargo terminal has been created at the airport. However, for Lebanon to develop into a regional distribution center, the business community has to be confident in the sustainability of such a proposition.

How is DHL approaching e-commerce start-ups, and how are you working with these new entrepreneurs?

We have been involved in e-commerce for many years. This sector and the companies involved are exciting, dynamic and present great export opportunities. Recently the fashion and design industry have been quite active, and a number of Lebanese businesses have jumped onto the global stage thanks to e-commerce. As the most international company in the world, DHL is ideally positioned to deliver its customers' products anywhere on the planet. We have developed systems that seamlessly integrate into our customers on line platforms to ensure that shipments get delivered on time and that the information flow is timely and efficient.

What projects do you have in line for the coming year?

We will continue to develop flight operations and find ways to add value for our customers wherever possible. There will be continued focus on e-commerce; especially on the design sector, which continues to go from success to success, and we will continue to look for ways to improve wherever and whenever we possibly can.