The Luxembourg-based provider of road feeder services evaluates investing in China to start up a trucking network. Zhengzhou in Henan Province is the place of choice for setting up operations, reveals President and CEO Frantz Wallenborn in his first interview given to any media.
"Your assumption is right, we are currently evaluating the Chinese market," confirms the Wallenborn Chief when addressed by CFG about the accuracy of latest industry rumors. He directly adds
however, that two main criteria must be fulfilled before any final decision will be tabled: a strong, reliable and professional Chinese partner is needed and the entire project has to become
profitable after a short initial phase. "In case these key conditions are not fulfilled we'll leave our hands off this venture," Frantz emphasizes. He confirms that there are ongoing discussions
with a number of potential Chinese trucking firms, although “we are still far from inking any agreement.”
However, if this task should be mastered and the outcome of the ongoing marketing study might encourage taking such a step, Zhengzhou in Central China will be the place Wallenborn intends starting its first Chinese road feeder service.
Why there? "Because of two anchor partners we serve - AirBridge Cargo and Cargolux. Both are operating in and out Zhengzhou, with Cargolux having just started flying," states Frantz.
The Wallenborn plan plays in the hands of both cargo airlines. Cargolux intends increasing the frequencies to and from Zhengzhou fast aiming to reach 25 flights per week in about two years time, as CEO Dirk Reich announced. Without a wide ranging inner Chinese trucking network, complemented by domestic feeder flights, this ambitious plan won’t work, he admits. “Their entire project stands and falls with volumes,” Wallenborn confirms.
His Group has grown fast during the past years. The upswing was mainly triggered by the trucking firm’s strong focus on the Chinese market and Wallenborn’s support to Chinese customers to grow their biz in Europe. Says the Group’s President: “At Wallenborn we are using our transport and logistics expertise, network of locations, and market as well as regulatory knowledge to help these clients to enter the European market successfully or – in case they are no newcomers – to enlarge their biz within the EU.”
This includes the development of a cold chain product that gives Chinese enterprises quick and easy access from and to the European healthcare market in compliance with strict regulatory requirements,” notes Key Account Manager Jason Breakwell.
Last year, Wallenborn trucks transported over two million tons of air freight, corresponding to the total amount of cargo moved at Rhine-Main airport. The enterprise operates between 600 to 650 trucks daily within Europe, linking all major air hubs. “We’ve just purchased 85 new vehicles together with 85 trailers,” Frantz states, “all of them complying with latest greenhouse gas emission standards required by the regulator.”
In August 2013, Wallenborn opened a production platform in Dubai, the first station ever set up outside the EU. Last month, a base in Sharjah was added to the operations in the United Arab Emirates. Both places are largely autonomous in their daily operations. “Neither I can, nor am I willing to control their activities out of Luxembourg,” exclaims Frantz. “They know much better the local environment, what has to be done and how to run the business.” This liberal credo is key for trucking firm Wallenborn, enabling local stations as much decision making as possible. Up to this point quite a successful strategy as the 260,000-plus shipments handled in 2013 illustrate.