William Ma, Managing Director of the Kerry Logistics Network Group
The more you get used to something, the easier it is to take it for granted. Take online shopping, for example. Find your product, click ‘add to cart’, pay and bam, it will appear at your door within the next business days almost like magic.
However, Kerry Logistics Network knows it’s not magic; it is the result of a very well connected and healthy supply chain – unfortunately, it is the same that has been severely disrupted due to the devastating effects of COVID-19. âThe only thing people still take for granted is the courier,â says William Ma, group CEO.
âYou order products online and expect them to come to you. In the past, some of the world’s largest online retailers could guarantee the timeline, claiming that the items you buy would arrive in three or four days. Now they can’t. They can’t guarantee because there is so much disruption in the inventory.
And according to William, e-commerce isn’t doing even the worst of the pandemic. The manufacturing is. âImagine that you are in the manufacturing world and you need certain raw materials to produce a mobile phone. Let’s say that’s 800 different components, and you don’t know when the material will arrive at your factory. You are missing a single component and you can’t put the phones together, âhe says.
Regardless of the seriousness of the situation, our staff are committed to working on the front line in order to provide stable and continuous services to our clients. If we didn’t, there would be major disruption.
âIt has been going on for a year and a half. The offer is not as stable as before. And now the prices are going up all over the world.
Kerry Logistics Network offers a wide range of supply chain solutions ranging from integrated logistics, international freight forwarding – air, sea, road, rail and multimodal – and industrial project logistics to cross-border logistics, trade electronics, last mile processing and infrastructure investments. So to say that COVID-19 has disrupted its activities is an understatement.
âBecause of COVID-19, we can’t travel, but we still have to move six containers per minute,â says William. âWe are now forced to manage the entire flow on Zoom or Microsoft Teams, and it’s not efficient. It’s a lot of pressure. Fortunately, we have a strong network. We’re in 60 countries and we’ve been in business for a while, which means we have the infrastructure. So for a logistics company we are much more fortunate than most.
However, it will take more than luck to overcome the lingering effects of the pandemic, he admits. âThe post-COVID world is going to be very different. I don’t think we can go back to 2019, âhe predicts.
âFrom a manufacturing and sales perspective, a lot of the current infrastructure that has been built over the past two decades has been destroyed. It will take at least two to three years for the global supply chain to return to pre-COVID levels.
âIn the past, it was easy to take these things for granted. But now we have to rebuild. No one knows when this pandemic will end, so we need to prepare for this new way of doing things. With a team of over 41,000 people, the company’s primary goal has been to ensure the safety and well-being of its staff during this difficult time.
Kerry Logistics Network generated revenues of over HKD 53 billion (US $ 6.8 billion) in 2020 and is the largest international logistics company listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. The group was also selected as a member of the Hang Seng 2020-2021 Corporate Sustainability Index Series.
âIn logistics, we cannot work from home. We have to be on the front line, âsays William. âOur people have to be at the seaport and the airport to go through customs, load it into the cargo and load it off the container and the plane, then back onto the truck. We also need people to work in warehouses, otherwise things will not reach their destination.
âSo, whatever the seriousness of the situation, our staff are committed to working on the front line in order to provide stable and continuous services to our clients. If we didn’t, there would be major disruption. Therefore, safety is our top priority. Since COVID-19, William has admitted that the company’s future plans have essentially gone up in smoke, as putting out fires left and right has become the norm.
âIt doesn’t make a lot of sense to spend a lot of time and effort on future planning when our clients are counting on us right now to make sure there is no disruption in the supply chain. ‘supply,’ he said.
âIt’s a lot of firefighting. We are facing different challenges due to the impact of the pandemic in various countries and cities. Yet despite all this “firefighting,” William remains rather unfazed by it all. His cool comes from the confidence he has in his team. âYou have to stay calm,â he smiles.
âI have to lead the team to handle it all. It has become a new standard for us. And I believe we can count on our professional and dedicated team. How the company is moving smoothly throughout this incredible challenge has a lot to do with its internal culture.
It doesn’t make much sense to put a lot of time and effort into future planning when our clients are relying on us right now.
âWe’re pretty relaxed. As one of the very few global logistics companies based in Asia, I would say we benefit from our Asian hospitality, âsays William. âOur competitors are mainly European and seem more rigid in their operations. We tend to be more practical, more human, especially with all the challenges we have had to overcome with our clients over the past year.
On Christmas Eve 2020, Kerry Logistics Network announced that it had finalized the spin-off of its subsidiary Kerry Express Thailand (KETH). “We are very proud of this successful spin-off and listing, and the enthusiastic reception from investors,” William said in a statement. âKETH is now a true Thai business owned by the Thai people to serve the Thai people. Kerry Logistics Network has fueled the growth of KETH over the years and has been encouraged by how it has thrived. âToday, Kerry Express Thailand has become synonymous with excellence in delivery service in Thailand. With the leadership of an exceptional management team and listing capital, we are confident that KETH’s future triumphs will reach new heights and be the standard by which all are measured.
Despite the challenges, Kerry Logistics Network continued to thrive, innovate and grow. Earlier this year, the company announced a strategic cooperation proposal with SF Holding, leveraging its core competencies across multiple verticals to create a leading global logistics platform based in Asia to meet ever-changing demands. evolution of customers.
This partnership is expected to create significant synergies to stimulate the growth and leadership of both companies in the logistics sector, thereby bringing value to its investors. âSF is the largest express transportation company in China,â explains William.
âThey are very strong in B2B and they have a lot of customers. This partnership will bring us a good customer base in China, while allowing us to support SF outside of China.
William, who started his career at Kerry Logistics Network in 1990, says the logistics of the past were much simpler than the logistics of today, thanks in large part to globalization. However, in some ways this is a good thing because even after more than three decades in the business, he never gets tired of his job.
âOne thing is for sure, you will never be bored in this industry,â he smiles. âI never plan my schedule for the afternoon because there will always be new things for me to deal with. It makes life at work more interesting.