Freight & Express

TCS Express already has a growing presence in the local express and courier market. However, the Pakistani company is now planning a move into the freight sector.

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By  Neil Denslow Published  March 2, 2005

|~|TCS_m.jpg|~|Jamil Janjua and Mazhar Ayub Khan|~|TCS Express has come a long way since it launched operations in Pakistan in 1983. It handled just 25 overnight shipments on its first day, but more than 20 years later, the company now boasts an extensive network in Pakistan and Southeast Asia, which is serviced by 100+ trucks and four aircraft. Outside of its home market, the company also has hub operations in both Toronto and London, as well as a growing presence in the UAE. “We have a very strong position in Pakistan, and we wanted to leverage on that to go global,” explains Jamil Janjua, chief executive, TCS Express. “We are looking to expand around the world by having these hubs, although we are not looking at duplicating 100% of what [the big integrators] have done... Instead, we are looking at our own niche markets,” he adds. The core market for TCS is obviously Pakistan, and the company has therefore chosen to establish its hubs in cities with large expatriate Pakistani communities, as these provide a solid base of potential customers for the company to build on. This was one of the main reasons why, in 1998, the company opened its first overseas hub in Dubai. The emirate also had a strong geographical location and the infrastructure and transport links needed for handling shipments going in and out of Pakistan. “Our first stepping stone into the global market was Dubai, as it provides excellent connections worldwide,” explains Janjua. “We are also very optimistic about the potentials and opportunities in this region, and we want to be part of that growth,” he adds. In addition to its Dubai hub, the company has also set up a facility in Abu Dhabi, and it is aiming to have a presence in each of the UAE’s seven emirates, starting with Sharjah and Al Ain, in the near future. In the longer term, TCS is aiming to link these offices by air so that it can offer same-day deliveries throughout the country. “We already have our own air operations in Pakistan… and we are looking at extending these to Dubai, as well as experimenting eventually with a small cargo aeroplane flying between all of the emirates,” says Janjua. “That is perhaps a little ambitious at this point in time, but we are confident that we can do it considering our experience in Pakistan… and, I would think that within three years, it would be quite possible.” TCS has built its business on express document and package deliveries; however, the company has also leveraged on its network and facilities to launch complimentary products. In Pakistan, for instance, it offers travel and tourism services, which may come to the UAE in time. Within the emirates, however, it has already launched a passport delivery service with the Pakistani consulate, as well as Sentiments Express. This gift service, which is run in partnership with local merchants, was originally designed to allow customers to send presents to their relatives in Pakistan, however, it subsequently expanded overseas. “It proved very popular [in our home market] and we realised that there was a need for the same service for Pakistani communities elsewhere in the world, such as Dubai and Toronto,” says Janjua. ||**|||~||~||~|The company is now set to add a new offering to its product list, with the launch of freight services. The first step in this plan is to establish a direct air link between the country and the company’s operations in Pakistan. “We are already looking at extending the air charter from Karachi to Dubai, which should be done within the next three months,” says Janjua. “Within the region, we are also looking at air charters from Dubai to Afghanistan, Iran and on into Central Asian states,” he adds. The company is also planning to offer much more extensive freight services utilising its facility in the Dubai Airport Free Zone and a tie-up with GAC. These will enable TCS to use Dubai as a transit point for import/export, as well as handling freight for its existing customers within the UAE. “Providing someone with a total transportation solution is not possible without freight,” says Mazhar Ayub Khan, TCS’s general manager, courier & logistics. “We have handled freight in the past, but as far as it being a real focus for us, we have not really done it before... [However,] if you look at the infrastructure that we already have, it will quickly allow us to get into that business,” he adds. “A further strength that we have is the reputation that we have built up over 20 years,” Kahn continues. “There is a lot of trust there already, and we have a huge customer base that we can build on.” TCS is to offer both air and sea freight, as well as logistics, and it believes that its existing customers will be attracted by the one-stop service it will be able to provide. “Companies are looking for a one-vendor facility,” says Janjua. “They will not want to deal with somebody for courier, someone else for freight, and yet another person for cargo, if there is one organisation that is able to provide it all,” he adds. To begin with, the logistics provider’s main target market will be companies that regularly ship smaller freight loads, around 45-100 kg. However, over the longer term, as the company becomes more established in this sector, it will look to handle larger shipments more regularly. “We are already in a position to handle that kind of [45-100 kg] cargo,” says Khan. “This does not mean that we will not handle bigger cargo as well, but the main target will be smaller loads. We will then look to develop our own resources.” The GAC partnership will help TCS in this regard, as the shipping giant will be able to provide it with both economies of scale and the global connections necessary for handling freight. “You have to have a certain amount of partners worldwide [for freight] and then you can create your own global network,” says Khan. “At this stage, we are much more focused on establishing our customer base… and, as such, we will be working with GAC, which already has the agents in place,” he adds.||**||

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