The Ahlers Group— a privately owned Belgium-headquartered company— is into freight forwarding by ocean and air, has a presence in more than 15 countries, including India and employs 800 people worldwide. With a global annual turnover of over 205 million euros, Ahlers India contributed around 9 per cent to total company revenues.
Although the Ahlers Group started its operations in India 13 years ago, as a traditional forwarding and agency business, its roots in trade to India go back more than 100 years. Today, it provides sophisticated supply chain solutions and special expertise in project cargo worldwide. Ahlers India employs more than 100 professionals over seven strategic locations in India and has bagged the Freight Forwarder of the Year in 2012 and in 2014, by the South East CEO Conclave & Awards.
Jitendra Srivastava, CEO and Managing Director, Ahlers India, is proud of his company’s progress and achievements. “Over the years, we have helped Indian shippers become successful by serving difficult markets ranging from Russia to Africa. Today, we are implementing the digital shift into intelligent supply chain services, which will benefit shippers with extensive usage of data analytics and IT platforms. We are recognised as a specialised solution provider for projects and heavy shipments.”
While India is a promising and stable market for Ahlers India, the logistics industry in the country is reeling, following the implementation of the goods and services tax (GST), which has especially hit this internationally operating service centred industry. But Ahlers India remains positive about GST. “Yes indeed, the market is rapidly evolving. The implementation of GST in India is a positive signal and we expect a new redesigned and redefined logistics model to emerge. Smart logistics will play an important role as the service efficiency and logistics cost optimisation to customers will come from infrastructure, technology and innovative solutions from service providers.
More such moves and initiatives from the government will help us in our investment plans in India as we are keen to introduce new ideas and solutions with new technology in the Indian market,” he added. The company has already introduced some innovative products into India. Informs Srivastava, “We are working on various innovative products and solutions developed within the group worldwide. This includes our IT platform for easy tracking of shipments via data analytics capacities to devices acting as sensors on goods, which require specific safety or security measures. We are committed to increase our presence in India.”However, the company has faced some logistic challenges in India, especially around low usage of information technology, inadequate integration of transport networks and limited warehousing and distribution facilities, while dealing with government regulatory bodies has often been an uphill task.
Srivastava elaborates, “Besides infrastructure and technology, government regulations which is sometimes different at the state level, continue to create complications in offering a world standard one-India service. Even scarcity of skilled manpower within the industry at strategic levels specially into IT, data analytics, warehousing, project handling etc. is a challenge although new talent is joining the industry through campus recruitment programs.
A single window clearance system for new proposals and investments can certainly favour business expansion plans in India while ease of business in dealing with regulatory bodies in India can certainly aid fast decision making,” Srivastava suggests.