Q: The first quarter of 2015 brought an unexpected GDP increase of over 4% compared to Q1 2014, exceeding the most optimistic estimates made by analysts and authorities. Do you think that is a trend that may continue for the rest of the year? Give us your personal opinion on the evolution of the Romanian economy in 2015.
Daniel Kearvell: I firmly believe that the Romanian economy is well set on the road to sustainable growth. Whilst this journey is not and will not be without a few bumps along the way, there are clear signs for optimism, both from a macro-economic perspective, and through the prism through which we at DHL view the country’s economy. As the leading international express company in Romania, we facilitate the country’s economic activity from a privileged standpoint, working with over 5,200 customers from across the full spectrum of business. This year we have observed a number of landmark investments and expansions, particularly in the manufacturing, textile and production sectors of the economy. Whilst the rate of new investments and projects in Romania may not in itself be particularly significant, we notice an increasing tendency amongst significant investors already in the country to expand and invest. The Transylvanian area is a particularly good example of this development. This growth, of course, could not take place without a steadily increasing export environment – particularly to Eurozone countries – which has also been a noticeable feature of our customer base’s development in 2015, and which is also fuelling the economy’s development.
Q: Which are the main engines that could sustain a more important growth this year and beyond?
Daniel Kearvell: However much one endeavours to separate the two, a key driver of economic growth in Romania is the country’s relative levels of political stability. This is a key factor in both attracting new investors, and safeguarding and developing their investments once established in the country. By its very nature, change brings uncertainty, and pulls backs the ability of all parties to execute swift and effective decisions. Thus, stability would likely be at or near the top of every organization’s wish list. Better infrastructure would enhance the attractiveness of Romania for external investors, and also of course increase the country’s overall competitiveness. It is relevant to note, however, that important developments have been made in this area in recent years – we are encouraged by the investment going into several regional Romanian airports, for example, whilst the road infrastructure is steadily improving – although this momentum needs to be maintained and in some areas accelerated.
Q: How have you perceived (if so) this positive evolution in your business? Have you noticed any positive developments/ trends? Or, on the contrary? Please, detail.
Daniel Kearvell: 2015 thus far has been one of the most successful years in DHL Romania’s recent history. We anticipate growth in the region of ten percent for our international business, which represents excellent progress. In particular, the rise in imports from Asian origins has been extremely significant, and there are also encouraging signs of increasing demand from the Eurozone for Romanian exports – these markets of course are crucial for the country, representing 8 of Romania’s top 10 express destinations. Increasingly, I believe that customers are looking for a ‘one-stop-shop’ from their Express partners. To this end, and to meet this demand, this year we have strengthened our offerings in areas such as Same Day international capabilities, and our ability to provide transport for a wider category of goods and products.
Q: Which were the main events and trends that have marked your industry and, in particular, your activity last year? How has the market changed? Which were the main drivers of your activity?
Daniel Kearvell: We are fortunate, in my view, to be operating in a constantly evolving and developing industry, which demands constant investment, creativity and focus. Whilst challenging, such an environment I think rewards commitment and longevity, allied to a consistent investment programme. Undoubtedly our customers are becoming ever-more demanding in Romania. As private consumption levels grow in the country, so does the level of expectation of quality service. Express providers are expected to become ever-more available and convenient for our customers; one of the drivers of expansion of our Service Points to locations such as shopping malls and fuel stations has been our aim to become ever-closer – literally – to those who wish to send and receive international shipments.
Q: Which are your expectations/ plans for 2015? Which are the main opportunities and risks in your industry?
Daniel Kearvell: Our plans are, as previously stated, to achieve an excess of ten percent growth in 2015.
We see our investment programme, which is significant, as a particular opportunity. These investments drive the quality that customers expect of DHL. 2015 will see the launch of an international gateway in Timisoara, and expansion of our existing facility in Cluj, and the purchase of another wave of new courier vehicles. In terms of risk – every shipment is a risk, because in our industry we are only as good as our last shipment, as a wise manager once said to me! In terms of the external market, I believe that increased political instability would hinder the country’s development, and in turn the economy, with all the knock-on effects to organizations that such a development may bring. As I mentioned before, however, the direction of the country remains positive, in our view, and the opportunities far outweigh the risks involved.
Q: How do you assess the current business climate (in every respect)? What has changed in the recent years? What are the main problems which you are facing?
Daniel Kearvell: Next year we mark DHL Romania’s 25 Year Anniversary. This is of course a significant milestone, and as an organization such experience provides us with the local knowledge to face the many challenges that we have in our day-to-day operation. As I have mentioned, in recent years customers have become ever-more demanding, and expect world-class service from DHL, regardless of when their shipments are being sent to Botosani, or being received from Botswana. We are fortunate that we are approaching 500 Certified International Specialists at DHL Romania, many of whom have been with us for a good proportion of our 25 years in the country. This gives us great confidence that we will continue to meet our customers’ high expectations.