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logistics


Tarek Sultan, CEO, AGILITY


2 fast facts


- the integrated logistics firm employs around 22,000 people in 550 offices spread over 100 countries.


- agility was created in Kuwait in 1979, and is currently a publicly traded company with close to $6 billion in annual revenue.


- the company’s commercial business, Global integrated logistics (Gil), is headquartered in switzerland.


56 / DECEMBER 2011


011 has been an extraordinary year and while we hope for more stability in 2012, this by no means


looks certain. Against a backdrop of global economic uncertainty, emerging markets continue to offer good prospects. Agility’s biggest revenue gains came from the Middle East, Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America. Our strength in such markets is a differentiator for us and is key to Agility’s long-term growth. The Arab Spring has clearly


transformed the Middle East. Over the long-term, I remain bullish on prospects for the region, with new governments hopefully becoming more responsive to the need for growth and development and more private sector oriented than they have been in the past. They will need to create jobs to satisfy the demands of their people. In the short- term, our industry is focused on getting essential goods and services through. Even while there is conflict, people need to eat, obtain medicines and so on, and our job is to secure supply chains around those critical items. Having our roots in the Middle East helps – we have experience working under extremely challenging and difficult operating environments so we continue to not only to function but to perform well, delivering for our global customers. 2011 was also marked by the sheer


scale of catastrophe that occurred in Japan in March. Compounded by other serious natural disasters across the year


and the massive business disruption they trigger, the logistics industry has really woken up to the need to engineer supply chains which are tougher and more resilient – ‘just-in-case’ supply chains and not merely ‘just-in-time’. So the industry is looking at factors such as diversified production and distribution that help remove the risk of single-point- of-failure as well as increased flexibility in the flow and routing of goods. Given the volatility we have seen in


2011, I anticipate a continuation of the mixed global economic picture in 2012 with emerging markets moving ahead and more developed markets continuing to struggle. As a reflection of this, we will see continued trade lane growth in the Far East and in the Middle East – a trend set to continue for several years into the future. Trade lanes will also increase between the Middle East and emerging markets such as Brazil and India. As the Agility Emerging Markets Logistics Index predicted, we will see the continued rise of ‘near-sourcing’ markets like UAE, Mexico and Turkey, while in Asia, economies such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia will continue with their strong development. But while we have good reason to be upbeat, uncertainty in the global economic picture means that we will remain cautious and conservative, streamlining the organisation to boost efficiency, while looking to grow revenue organically.


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