The industry has demonstrated stable growth in 2014, compared to 2013. The total value of the market would likely be in the region of EUR 250 million, with continuing levels of competitiveness across the board in Romania. This competition is something we welcome, and is good news for our customers as service levels continue to raise. Increasingly, consumers are becoming more demanding and require higher levels of flexibility from logistics providers - particularly in the sphere of e-commerce and delivery options. For DHL, 2014 has been a record year in terms of the amount of customers making use of our online tools to simplify the logistics and transportation process.
In the same time, the business environment in Romania, particularly from the viewpoint of the international express, continues to demonstrate solid growth. Whilst 2014 has been a year of relatively limited foreign investment into the country in general, growth has been provided by the increase in online shopping, and the success of a particularly number of Romania SMEs in certain industries – hi-tech, textile, manufacturing being three in particular. We see the SME segment as the engine for growth, not only for DHL, but for the economy as a whole. Romanian business is extremely well positioned for a number of reasons to internationalize, and we see organizations looking to do so more than ever.
In what concerns us, we continue to see growth across all segments of our customer base. Particularly notable in 2014 has been the sharp increase in the levels of import shipments, driven by an increasingly active online environment in Romania. For DHL in Romania, investment has also been a major theme: we have updated our fleet, opened a new terminal in Cluj, and launched a number of new products aimed at better servicing our customers. Our retail network has also been expanded. This focus on constant improvement has been a key driver of the overall company business growth, and we expect again to post double-digit growth for 2014. 2014 also saw the retail expansion of DHL in Romania - we are now in more locations than ever across the country, offering ever-more opportunities and convenience to customers wishing to send their shipments.
Our growth drivers are intrinsically linked to our levels of service. As such, the investments we have implemented in 2014 are widespread across the whole of the business – starting with our employees. Globally, one of DHL’s biggest investments has been in the Certified International Specialist program, an ongoing learning experience which certifies each and every one of our employees as a specialist in International Express. This has had a hugely beneficial impact on the overall levels of expertise and engagement of our staff in Romania. Our infrastructure of course also remains a key area of continual investment. Our new terminal in Cluj has already improved service for one of the fastest growing areas of the country. We have upgraded our aircrafts servicing Cluj and Arad, and embarked on an ambitious investment plan for our Bucharest operation. Finally, and equally importantly, we re-launched the DHL Carpathian Mountain Relay in 2014. This event, which raised significant sums for ‘Save the Children’ Organization, was hugely successful in promoting awareness amongst children of the problems of drugs and alcohol, as well as providing a fantastic weekend of sport and entertainment for our customers and employees alike. This was just one of a number of charity partnerships we undertook in 2014; social responsibility is a key area of priority for DHL.
One of the highlights of the year for DHL has been the partnership we have launched with the Romanian Government, with the aim of developing SMEs and promoting the internationalization of Small and Medium Sized enterprises. This segment accounts for over 80% of the total number of DHL Romania’s over 5,000 customers, with this percentage growing each year. So clearly this is a priority area for us. Within the program, we offer consulting and advice designed for SMEs, and we have dedicated resources for the segment. These include a dedicated website - and, together with the Ministry for SMEs, we have launched conferences designed to give practical advice to those SMEs looking to export, or “internationalize” their businesses.
One particularly interesting initiative we are currently in the process of launching is using our packages as advertising space, promoting Romanian quality and Romanian export, and introducing stickers on all of our international shipments which reflect this.