Jörg Herwig von Hellmann on the advantages of the newly established System Alliance Europe, the current general cargo market and his plans for land transport.
trans aktuell: Mr. Herwig, where do you see the greatest added value for the Hellmann company in the realignment?
Herwig: The realignment gives SAE the right structure to be able to react flexibly and quickly to the market. In addition to expanding the partner network, the use of innovative IT also helps members to better meet current market requirements. At the same time, this competitive orientation helps the members to expand their European traffic across the board.
How will Hellmann use the general cargo network for itself in the future?
As a logistics service provider that focuses on innovation, we focus not only on the consistent expansion of our European transports but also on the continuous further development of our product range. At the same time, we are also interested in closing gaps in terms of geographic coverage. With the creation of a tailor-made infrastructure, we want to enable sustainable growth for everyone involved.
Which SAE partners have you been working with so far?
Hellmann is itself an SAE partner in Poland, Great Britain and Spain as well as in Turkey and also works with many other SAE partners throughout Europe. For example with Gebrüder Weiss, Mainfreight or Freja, to name just a few. Some SAE partners actually only got into the SAE through cooperation with Hellmann. In the meantime, you are developing your network in countries where Hellmann is not represented, also with other SAE partners. In addition to a certain amount of charisma, we also have good integrative power for Allianz.
How is the general cargo business developing at Hellmann, and what part does SAE play in this?
The developments in export volumes in Europe in the last 15 months have been an enormous challenge for the general cargo networks. In the second quarter of 2020, it was necessary to maintain the lines despite the sharp drops. After that there was a recovery phase, and since the beginning of this year we have even seen an extreme increase compared to the pre-Corona year 2019. On the one hand, this also reflects catch-up effects and generally strong demand; on the other hand, the success of our growth strategy is also evident here.
What are your growth targets in the general cargo business with SAE?
We want to continue to grow significantly in the European business and see great potential here, which we will leverage through our own growth strategy and future developments at SAE. In addition, we are opening up further opportunities by integrating the Hellmann East Europe network.
In your opinion, how important is the digitization / standardization of the process flows via the SAE platform Log-IT for the cooperation?
Digitization is very important for the processes in today’s general cargo networks. In order to create corresponding added value and to cover customer requirements, work steps have to be standardized and digitized more and more.
You have been Hellmann’s new COO Road & Rail since March. What goals have you set yourself in the area of land transport?
First of all, of course, I have to get to know the company better in order to penetrate it in its entirety from the structure to the employees to the detailed process flows. At the same time, I am currently already focusing on the further development of land transport in Germany and Europe with a special focus on Hellmann East Europe (HEE). In addition to the clear focus on profitable growth, my aim is also to improve standardized processes on a sustainable basis in order to increase efficiencies and make the best possible use of them.
How are shipment sizes and weights developing on the European general cargo market, for example in view of the increase in B2C business? What challenges does this mean for the process and especially for direct transport, for example with regard to more unpalletized shipments?
Due to the current situation shaped by the pandemic, buying behavior has changed, e.g. more end consumers purchase their goods directly from the producer or wholesaler via the Internet. This has resulted in a sharp increase in B2C business. This poses completely new challenges for the operational processes of a general cargo forwarding company: Predefined delivery time windows, deliveries from private individuals and waiting times are at the expense of productivity and thus increase the costs of handling and delivery.
Which B2C shipments are typically en route in the European network?
Basically everything that can be ordered on the Internet is currently on the network. These could be the bicycles, which are currently in high demand, but also garden furniture and, in addition to other hobby and leisure items, items for daily use such as household appliances or animal feed.
Customs clearances were very difficult in the Brexit transition period, especially for groupage. What experiences have the network partners had / did Hellmann have? What are your hopes for the signing of the new trade agreement between Great Britain and the EU?
The particular challenge with Brexit was certainly that it was only at Christmas that it became clear what the Brexit would look like in concrete terms. However, we have already spoken to our customers about the upcoming changes and have pointed out that customs formalities will be required with and without a deal. In preparation for this, we conducted regular training courses for our employees in all areas in the months leading up to Brexit – from sales to Services, goods clearance up to the customs department. Thanks to internal IT solutions, we were well prepared for the increased administrative workload. In addition, we have invested heavily in the UK in building up customs expertise and employees for the additional work involved in customs formalities and border clearance. Hellmann was well armed and was able to keep the traffic going continuously, even if the first weeks of the year were a bit bumpy for everyone.
You are also the new managing director of Hellmann East Europe (HEE) – what are your goals for expanding activities in Eastern Europe?
I also see Eastern Europe as a growth market in the future. Therefore, together with my team, I will continue to work on sustainably increasing our market shares here in all countries. It is important to me to closely connect HEE in order to consistently expand our strengths and make them available to the market – solution and customer-oriented. With the introduction of a new IT, we will become more digital overall. A first step has just been taken with the changeover in Germany. For example, one goal is to offer our customers noticeable added value with a view to supply chain transparency by establishing consistent track & trace systems.
- Jörg Herwig has been Chief Operating Officer (COO) Road & Rail at Hellmann since March 1, 2021. At the same time he was also appointed Managing Director of Hellmann East Europe (HEE).
- He previously worked for Dachser, Kuehne + Nagel and DB Schenker. Most recently, as a member of the management board, he was in charge of all land transport activities, in particular the Schenker network in Germany and Switzerland.
Photo: STEFANIE J. STEINDL