Steady Business

Al Naboodah Cargo recently opened a new facility in Jebel Ali Free Zone and has already started planning a move into Dubai Logistics City.

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By  Robeel Haq Published  May 7, 2006

|~|naboodah2.jpg|~|Sridhar Kanagasabapathy, manager, Al Naboodah Cargo Centre|~|Whilst a large number of logistics companies in the Middle East have concentrated on physical growth during the current regional boom, Al Naboodah Cargo Centre has adopted a slightly different approach. Instead of hastily opening new warehouse facilities and increasing employee numbers, the company is undergoing a ‘slow and steady’ growth strategy. However, after operating exclusively at Dubai Cargo Village for over a decade, it’s now ready to expand into new territories, starting with a second facility in Jebel Ali Free Zone. Al Naboodah Cargo Centre was established back in 1994 by the Saeed and Mohammad Al Naboodah (SMA) Group, which owns a number of different businesses operating in the Middle East within industries such as civil construction, travel and tourism, automotives and electrical products. After researching various locations for their logistics company, Saeed and Mohammad Al Naboodah finally picked Dubai Cargo Village, which is located near Dubai International Airport. “The company has remained in Dubai Cargo Village since its inception,” explains Sridhar Kanagasabapathy, manager, Al Naboodah Cargo Centre. “Until recently we operated exclusively from this location because it provided a centralised location with easy access to important transport links.” A number of major logistics players have strived to create a presence in various locations throughout the Middle East, especially during the current industry boom. However instead of jumping on the bandwagon, Al Naboodah Cargo Centre decided to avoid making hurried expansion plans. “Many competitors started opening new facilities over the past few years, but we acted cautiously and focused on steady growth. It’s important to carefully analyse the market to avoid operating empty warehouses,” says Kanagasabapathy. “This strategy has worked well and the company has grown quite significantly in terms of manpower, turnover and profits in the past few years.” Instead of focusing on expanding, Al Naboodah Cargo Centre developed its service offerings. In particular, the family-owned company wanted to build long-term relationships with customers by developing an understanding of their requirements and offering a personalised ‘one-to-one’ service. “Many companies claim to offer a personalised service, although this is sometimes a short-term arrangement, which results in the customer becoming disappointed with the level of service,” says Kanagasabapathy. “We strive to ensure the personalised service continues on a long-term basis and the small size of our company makes this perfectly achievable.” Al Naboodah Cargo Centre’s steady growth strategy supports its attempts to maintain a highly personalised service. “It’s a balancing act between maintaining quality service and building the company,” says Kanagasabapathy. “By phasing the growth, we can ensure that both existing and future customers get the same level of personalised service and nothing is compromised.” In addition to building relationships with customers, the company has formed partnerships with companies around the world. For instance, it has a long-standing relationship with Panalpina, a provider of forwarding and logistics services, specialising in intercontinental airfreight and ocean freight shipments. “We are linked with very good partners, such as Panalpina. The relationship has lasted nearly ten years now and it’s going very well. There are currently plans to develop this further in the future too. We also have other partners and numbers will increase more in the future.” Al Naboodah Cargo’s secure facility in Dubai Cargo Village includes a customs bonded warehouse measuring 500m², which stores dangerous goods, outsize cargo, perishables and items needing temperature control. The company’s logistics service offering covers tasks such as the inspection of goods, coordination of special equipment, loading and unloading, storage and transportation. It also offers a range of value added services, including specialised packing and re-labelling. “We specialise in airfreight from Dubai Cargo Village,” explains Kanagasabapathy. “The location allows us to establish a proactive relationship with airlines who have their offices within the Dubai Cargo Village, in addition to working closely with all other airlines operating in the United Arab Emirates.” After researching the potential benefits of opening a second facility in Jebel Ali, Al Naboodah Cargo Centre moved into the area towards the end of last year. “Getting space in Jebel Ali was difficult because there is a long waiting list for warehousing and office space,” says Kanagasabapathy. “Although it took some time to source suitable facilities, the Jebel Ali Free Zone Authority provided a lot of support.” The company selected Jebel Ali after becoming impressed by the infrastructure and location of the free zone. The facility is already reaching capacity and Kanagasabapathy plans to increase the amount of services being offered from the location. “We are fortunate because the warehouse is already very busy and turnaround is quick,” he says. “When we build the facility further, we plan to cater to dangerous cargo and perishables, because we already have clients interested in these services.” Al Naboodah Cargo Centre has also implemented a customised warehouse management system (WMS) to control the movement and storage of materials at the facility and provide realtime information to customers. In fact, the company actually stalled its launch in Jebel Ali to ensure the technology was complete and fully operational before beginning services. “Implementing the correct technology is extremely important,” states Kanagasabapathy. “The facility in Jebel Ali offers a complete logistics solution, which is supported by the ATMS Trackten warehouse management system. The technology is customised because we wanted something based on client requirements. Initially we experienced some issues with the software, but these were fine-tuned and the system is working seamlessly now.” The company is now brainstorming ideas for future growth. “We have gained years of experience and knowledge about the local market now,” concludes Kanagasabapathy. “The company has grown nicely in the last ten years and hopefully the trend will continue. We are planning to have a presence in Dubai Logistics City next, so everything is in place and the future looks good.” ||**||

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