Russia: "How do you manage a country with nine time zones"?
"Consumer goods, retail, fashion, manufacturing technology, high-tech and automotive industries have all seen major growth."
Russia is an important new market for the Group. Five questions to Marco Leineweber, Head of DHL Freight Russia
Five years ago the Group announced that it was going to invest US$250 million (EUR176 million) in Russia. Did the investment pay off?
Leineweber: Yes, very much so. DHL Freight has benefited from this enormous investment and it has put us in a very strong position. We were able to recover much faster than our competition after the financial crisis in 2008 and 2009. Today we're in very good shape.
Russia covers over 17 million square meters, but has relatively few people compared to China and India. Are there many opportunities for DPDHL to grow?
Leineweber: Russia is a very attractive market and there is great potential here. Firstly, because the logistics infrastructure is not yet fully developed. And secondly because so far, many companies have not yet dared to move into Russia. But that's starting to change. There's been a new wave of investments. Consumer goods, retail, fashion, manufacturing technology, high-tech and automotive industries have all seen major growth. These are the sectors we'll be focusing on.
Marco Leineweber has been head of business for DHL Freight Russia since 2009.
Don't the nine time zones make work challenging?
Leineweber: It's easier than you might think. When I drive to work in the morning I first call the office in Vladivostok on the Pacific coast. Then I work my way west calling one regional manager after the other. By the time I arrive at the office I have a complete overview of the situation across the country. We always set up conference calls early in the morning so that all the offices can take part.
Infrastructure must play a very important role for DHL Freight. What's the road situation like in Russia?
Leineweber: There is a program to improve the infrastructure with a budget in the trillions. But there has been a hitch in its implementation, the pace is all wrong and they've missed a lot out. There is infrastructure in the west and south of the country. Further north is a no man's land. East of the Urals in the West Siberian plains there is significant development in oil and gas, but still hardly any roads. As a road freight company what can you do?
We use the railway. The rail network in Russia is very good. It needs a bit of an overhaul, but nevertheless it is pretty reliable.
After Europe, China has become Russia's most important foreign trade partner. How does that impact DHL?
Leineweber: China's north western city Urumqi has over a million people and is growing very quickly. Along with DHL Global Forwarding's multimodal services, we have set up a new hub. Goods heading for Russia are sent on express trains to Urumqi and from there, they go to the border by truck. At the border, the goods are loaded onto Russian trucks and customs is handled electronically by the Novosibirsk customs competence center. The goods head to Novosibirsk and are then connected to the groupage network in the western part of the country. We are planning to use the same approach in Kazakhstan.