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A region on the rise

Asia Outlook talks to René Bach Larsen, Geodis Wilson's cluster Managing Director of Singapore and Southeast Asia.

Writer Ian Armitage
Project manager James Mitchell

Southeast Asian nations – particularly Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Thailand – represent a region of rapid economic growth says Geodis Wilson's René Bach Larsen, who in April was appointed cluster Managing Director of Singapore and Southeast Asia.

"Singapore's strategic location in the heart of Southeast Asia and at the crossroads of major shipping lanes has made it an important logistics hub," says Mr Bach Larsen, who brings considerable experience and industry knowhow to his new position. He joined the Geodis Calberson Group in Denmark in 1995 and then relocated in Indonesia in 1999 as the Country Manager, where he was instrumental in establishing a strong business presence, particularly in the logistics segment. He then held the post of Overseas Director (UK) from 2006 to 2007 before moving to a central position as Merger Director for Geodis Wilson's acquisition and integration activities, before he became Managing Director for Geodis in India in 2008.

Mr Bach Larsen's task is to develop Geodis Wilson's business in one of Asia's most dynamic economical hubs. He is thrives on the energy of Singapore as, "one of the prime global locations for logistics business".

"My aim is to develop a growth strategy, design customer solutions and make sure that we capitalise on the opportunities here," he explains. "Geodis is focusing on trade lane growth in the emerging markets of Brazil, China and India and the Asia Pacific. The Southeast Asian economy is dynamic and growing faster than ever. It also has great potential. Singapore, from a financial point of view, a strategic point of view, and a decision making point of view, will always be a critical engine of this potential. We are currently seeing a lot of business migrating from China and bringing diversification to the Southeast Asian region. Then, of course, there is the rising buying power and middle class here. These are the important reasons not to underestimate the future opportunities here. In particular, we have two strong emerging countries – Vietnam and Indonesia – their growth rates in comparison with other emerging economies are impressive and they represent huge possibilities for the future."

Over the past decade, Southeast Asia countries have averaged a growth rate of more than five percent per year.

U.S. imports from the region have grown steadily over the past few years too, with much of the traffic coming from Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.

"The Southeast Asia market is certainly often overlooked as a growth area because of its relatively modest size compared to the biggest players which are China and India," Bach Larsen says. "However, from a global perspective, it is actually a key strategic area. It has weathered the global recession well and is experiencing rapid growth. I am confident that we can take advantage of this growth and our broad service offering to become a more influential player in this region."

Geodis Wilson is geared up for it. The international freight forwarder delivers tailor-made integrated solutions to customers worldwide, offering complete multimodal transportation based on a pallet of core services, such as air freight, sea freight, air and sea, warehousing, contracts logistics, industrial projects and marine logistics. It was also a pioneer in setting up a cross border trucking services between Malaysia and Thailand almost 20 years ago. This activity has over the years expanded to include Singapore, Vietnam and China, with a hub and spoke distribution in each individual country.

"I think Southeast Asia is a region where you have the possibility to be innovative, to improve your service levels. When you do that, you have the ability to differentiate yourselves from the competition. This is how we plan to improve our market share," concludes Bach Larsen.

Geodis Wilson, a leading freight management company, was formed as a result of a merger between Geodis Overseas, the air and sea freight arm of the Geodis Group, and TNT Freight Management, formerly known as Wilson Logistics. In January 2008, the Geodis Group acquired Rohde & Liesenfeld, a German-based international air and sea freight forwarding group.

With 7,700 employees in more than 50 countries the company delivers tailor-made, integrated logistics solutions to customers enabling them to operate as 'best in class.' Geodis Wilson – with revenue of 2.64 billion in 2012 – is the freight forwarding arm of Geodis Group which became part of the French rail and freight group SNCF in 2008. With its 46,000 employees in more than 60 countries and a revenue of 9.5 billion euros (2012), SNCF Geodis ranks among the top seven companies in its field in the world.

To learn more visit www.geodiswilson.com.