APL Logistics: Learn & Adapt

From the December 2012 issue.

In APL Logistics’ case, the key to success is glocalisation. The Singapore-based company tells GT how it's done.

Connectivity and integration drive globalisation, especially in modern supply chain management. But, even the most advanced business model must adapt to local conditions, as regional heritage and cultural capital are key to sustainable growth.

In modern-day transport, performance is not only measured in total freight volume or adherence to schedule, but also in soft data – such as the ability to manage a far-flung supply chain and understand a specific marketplace. Spanning continents, currencies and customs, Singapore-based APL Logistics is one such multi-talent.

On a global scale, APL Logistics is more of a supply chain organisation than a classic transport business. It is present on all continents and will generate a turnover of US$1.4 billion in 2011 (€1,08 billion). It is owned by NOL, the largest shipping and logistics company listed on the Singapore Exchange.

Locally, however, the company has learned to adapt. Take Vietnam, which has been touted as a ‘hot market’ by investors around the globe. Home to an under-developed  road transport industry, the country is one of the company’s most important markets in South East Asia, generating an annual turnover of more than US$30 million – despite a whole set of challenges facing the local transport industry.

How did a multi-national corporation succeed in an emerging market that is characterised by a sharp contrast between rapidly growing freight volume and slow infrastructure development?

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