TNT, one of the world’s leading providers of mail and express delivery services, has had a presence in Mauritius since 1986 through its partnership with Velogic, the logistics activity sector of Rogers & Co. This relationship has since been further developed with the launch in June 2012 of TNT Economy Express to give customers a more economical service for less urgent shipments.
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TNT’s Area General Manager for North-East and East Africa and Indian Ocean Islands, Tim Steel, was in Mauritius a few weeks prior to the formal launch of the Economy Express service in June 2012. This provided a great opportunity to gather his views on the long-standing relationship with the courier service company’s associate, Velogic, which also holds the franchise for Mozambique.
“Through consolidation, the use of various forms of transportation and of the TNT global network allows us to offer a slightly slower but more price-competitive product to customers than the traditional courier product,” says Tim Steel. “Essentially it is a more effective solution for customers who want to ship larger consignments and prefer reliability to speed. With the world economy as it is at the moment, this is a very appropriate product.”
The Economy Express service, which is unique to TNT, offers the convenience of on-demand booking, delivery on a specified date within two to five working days, door-to-door transport, customs clearance and track and trace from pick-up to delivery via the company’s website. “It is currently a product which has virtually zero revenue. We can look for a potential upside in this business and revenue growth of one third with this launch,” according to Tim, “and at the same time offer a much broader scope of services to customers.”
With this latest addition to the service offering in Mauritius, the TNT-Velogic partnership continues to move ahead. “I was first involved in working with this business back in 2000 for a period of four years and it’s good to come back and find there has been solid growth since then. Rogers remains as committed as ever to the TNT brand, which is really encouraging,” he adds. “It is probably one of the most long-standing partnerships in Africa and one of the most successful. I would struggle to find another associate in Africa that represents the TNT brand any better than Velogic does.”
The TNT Area General Manager says there is a simple explanation behind this enduring partnership. “It’s all about commitment. The commitment to the brand, to customers, and to continually improving systems, processes, products and internal culture, everything that TNT stands for, has been exemplary on Rogers’ part and I think that has been the secret of the longevity of this partnership.”
Tim Steel further highlights the importance of understanding the Rogers business and not just the TNT part of it. “With the Velogic Regional Manager-Indian Ocean, André de Comarmond, we discussed Rogers’ activities in the Freeport and the role that the latter provides in the supply of groupage products to many of the countries on the east coast of Africa. Some ideas and opportunities for synergies with TNT activities have already started to spring to mind. It’s this kind of understanding and identifying shared opportunities that leads to the ongoing development of our relationship.”
TNT has had a presence in Africa for more than two decades, but an aligned strategy throughout the continent was only completed in 2010, when French-speaking African TNT countries were integrated and Africa separated from the Middle East. “Historically, the group has been satisfied with just having a solid delivery platform. We now see the strategic development of Africa from a social and economic perspective – as many of our multinational customers do – as being very interesting with regard to future growth perspectives and the ability to build sustainable networks.”
The company’s plan is to provide a credible service to customers in all corners of the continent, just as in any other part of the world. This implies investing in facilities, infrastructure and people and deploying standard processes either directly or through agency or associate partners.
“From our perspective, this is very easy to achieve in Mauritius because of the shared values that we have with Rogers. From the start of our Africa strategy review, we shared our plans openly and we have been able to look with Rogers at opportunities within Mauritius and more recently within Mozambique, as well as other potential areas of cooperation in the Indian Ocean region, which I hope we will be able to progress at some stage in the future.”
Maintaining credible service levels is not just a matter of moving goods from a point A to a point B – an operation which can be performed by any express company. As Tim points out, “The real value addition that we provide is doing it with reliability and offering the most outstanding, best-in-class customs clearance service. Typically, across Africa, the customs clearance environment is very complex. With reliability and with guarantees that the transit time will be X and the clearance time will be Y, our customers are able to effectively manage their supply chains and this is where we seek to add value.”
“The next level is to offer a new subset of services, which comes back to the Economy Express product. If you look at Africa as a consumer market of goods manufactured elsewhere, multinational companies have had to rely historically on a very disjointed supply chain to get their goods to market. What we are aiming to provide is a one-supplier solution from factory door all the way to end-consumer and to offer flexibility in using various combinations of air and/or road to do that. The customer then has a choice between time and cost for whichever product they choose, whilst always being able to count on TNT for reliability.”