Ken Allen has a hidden talent.
In addition to managing one of the world’s most international companies, the
German express delivery firm DHL Express, he is also a bit of a closet singer.
His rendition of the hit classic ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’,
used in the firm’s 2011 advertising campaign, might not be quite as good as the
Marvin Gaye version but it certainly emphasises his point about investing in
“We invest heavily in our brand,” he explains. “The reason
why we do the brand advertising — the deal with Manchester United [for example]
— is really so the small to medium sized companies see our name and when they
need to import or export, they call us first.”
It is a strategy that appears to be working. The division of
Europe’s biggest mail and express delivery group, Deutsche Post DHL, posted
revenues of 11.8bn ($14.7bn), a rise of 5.9 percent compared to the previous
year, in spite of severe economic conditions.
Coming from a firm that is widely regarded as a bellwether
of the global economy, Allen says the current economic outlook is brighter than
most newspaper headlines would have you believe. “It’s really hard at the
moment to try and cut through all on the doom and gloom you read about in the
newspapers every day versus what actual companies are reporting,” he says.
“With a lot of our customers, the general reaction at the
moment is that they are not too worried about 2012 because we are already six
or seven months into the year, but don’t ask about 2013 because they just don’t
know what is going to happen.”
In spite of the uncertainty in the euro zone and the gloomy
economic backdrop in the US, DHL has continued to grow its business amid
resilient expansion in Asia and increased demand for express delivery services
globally. Parent company Deutsche Post said in May that first-quarter net
profit had jumped by two thirds to 533m ($664.43m), exceeding analysts’
expectations. Revenue during the same period at DHL Express increased 7.5-8
“We are still seeing good growth in Asia, with the exception
of the tech sector,” finance chief Larry Rosen said. “Things are a bit
different than for our competitors because we have a broad network with which
we benefit from intra-Asian trade,” he added.
In addition to rising demand in Asia, Allen says many
small-to-medium-sized enterprises in Europe and the Middle East are keen to
expand their business abroad. “What seems to be happening at the moment is that
a lot of the small-to-medium-sized business in the Middle East and China are
now looking to export to new markets,” he explains.
“We are also seeing a lot of European companies… starting to
export more to get out of the current issues they are in. Spain, for example,
is doing exceptionally well — mostly from Spain to Asia and a little bit to the
“I honestly believe that the way out of this [economic] mess
is [through international trade]. The world has got so much better over the
last years, especially since World War II, through international trade. It’s the
greatest thing that we can do, it opens up so many markets and so many
opportunities and it’s a massive driver of wealth creation, innovation and
opportunity and that’s why we feel quite proud to be part of it. If you are a
small business sometimes it’s really hard to think about how to get something
into or out of India or China or Brazil so that’s a lot of what we are trying
to do,” he adds.
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