Many western business people refrain from flying to Russia these days. Not so Managing Director Stephan Haltmayer of Frankfurt-based forwarding agent Quick Cargo Service (QCS). He is determined to attend a Moscow-held logistics gathering in spite of the unfavorable political circumstances. We asked him what his motives are for taking this step.
Q: Stephan, QCS will visibly fly its flag at the Moscow-held logistics gathering from 12 to 14 September hosted by the Russian Associated Cargo Experts – ACEX. Do you feel this
to be an appropriate moment for a European forwarding agent to have its presence there?
A: The ACEX Conference was finalized in May in Hong Kong when I met the initiators and other Worldwide Partners who were all very fond of moving forward to develop the Russian market and the regional sub-markets of the surrounding CIS states. We are holding on to the plan since the members are still in need of each other and there is still a lot of business moving towards these countries. I see it as a first start for a long term plan.
Q: The political and economic climate between Russia and the west is constantly deteriorating, shown by the recent sanctions and counter measures. Has this partial blockade of trade had any impact on your firm’s cargo activities and figures so far?
A: We are interested to engage in air freight business with clients located in these countries, not truck business. Shipments above a distance of 1,000 km are of interest for this mode of transport. The market from Germany to Russia dropped by 18% lately, a lot of this minus is related to perishables. Air freight shipments are generally high value products which are needed in Russia and the CIS states. Both our markets depend heavily on each other. I hope the stressed political situation will be short-term. Through the network members of the ACEX we expect to learn more about possibilities and solutions during these difficult times. I see it as a challenge and opportunity to move things forward despite the difficult political environment.
Q: Which business expectations are you taking to the Moscow meeting with you?
A: At first we will take a deeper look into the CIS countries. These are emerging markets and sound customers of the German industry proven by their imports of goods. We expect to meet local agents who have a strong customer base and who are currently importing different products made in Germany. We already had contacts to some of the ACEX members but so far we haven’t met any of them. With face-to-face meetings we hope to build an intense relationship to a number of local agents and their management. We as QCS initiated a similar model when we stepped into the China market fifteen years ago. The outcome was the China Cargo Alliance which proved to be very beneficial for all members, including our company.
Q: Up to now QCS hasn’t got any representation in Russia or within one of the surrounding CIS states. Therefore, it would be interesting to know if you intend establishing your own branch at major airports like Moscow Sheremetievo or Domodedovo, Almaty, Baku or Tashkent to capitalize especially on the growing air freight biz in some of the CIS countries?
A: Having own offices is future thinking, which at this point is too early to answer. QCS has always cooperated successfully with local specialized agents, this has always been a strategic pillar which contributed to our success story.
If we feel the time to be ripe, we might look into joint ventures with some of our partners but this is subject to the market development and can only be based on mutual trust.
Q: Could you kindly give a brief overview of your company’s results in the first half of 2014?
A: The first two quarters of this year have developed very positively for us. We had some remarkable increases of our time definite and niche market products such as the shipping of aviation spare parts or airfreighting pharmaceuticals. Exports of standard cargo increased slightly and imports went up as well, with ocean freight outgrowing air freight. The last two months appear to be rather flat, but I do expect a stronger 3rd and 4th quarter to come until the year’s end.
Thank you for answering our questions.