Jarosław Śliwa, CEO Cargus: “Pandemic restrictions have made it difficult to estimate the volumes we would run each season.”
Number of views2043
Number of comments0
The interview was published on Forbes Romania and can be read in romanian version by following the link
- What is the word that best characterizes 2021? Why?
2021 was a dynamic year for the courier market in Romania. In addition to the continuous, natural development that has been taking place in this sector for several years, the pandemic has stimulated and accelerated investments by major players in developing solutions that meet the current needs and expectations of customers and final recipients.
Throughout the year we have invested heavily in operational asset development, last mile delivery, IT solutions and communication with recipients. Therefore, I would characterize 2021 as an extremely dynamic and catalytic year in terms of innovation and development.
- What have been your concerns for the business you run in 2021? (pandemic, economic crisis, raw materials crisis, inflation, labor force, government crisis, others). Compared to the estimates at the beginning of the year, what are the results of the company/group’s activity?
I think we were most affected by the lack of predictability. The pandemic restrictions made it difficult to estimate the volumes we were going to run each season. It’s easy to say that the courier market will grow in a given year or period, but you have to anticipate how big that growth will be, so that each percentage of increase is backed up by investment to ensure the best delivery service in the market.
This requires being able to anticipate the market consumption trends and logistics capacity very accurately. This was the challenge of 2021: to know what volumes we will be working with, what the peak season will look like, how many people we will need to hire and what needs, different from previous years, our customers and partners might have.
When we designed our three-year strategy, the first step was to build a solid foundation, to improve the logistical infrastructure and to prepare the organisation to offer the best courier service on the market. We inaugurated 8 new logistics warehouses, located in strategic geographical areas for the courier industry: Brasov, Buzau, Miercurea Ciuc, Zalău, Cluj, Pitesti, Targoviste, Alba-Iulia and Vaslui (opened in 2018, but upgraded in 2021), equipped with modern sorting lines, capable of doubling or even tripling the parcel sorting capacity, and expanded the Ship & Go network, reaching today more than 330 locations.
Last year, we focused on launching innovative technological and digital solutions to offer our customers the best delivery experience. I am mentioning the equipping of the entire Cargus courier team with Zebra TC57 Android mobile devices and the implementation of the PIN on Glass solution, an innovation on the European courier market, which allows contactless payment, directly to the courier, based on any type of contactless card or digital wallet device.
We also acquired the company QeOPS to strengthen our e-fulfillment and logistics services and launched the Cargus Mobile app, that provides our customers with visibility, flexibility and control of deliveries and which, in a very short time, has become very useful and appreciated by our customers.
All these investments and efforts made have ensured us the best delivery rate in the market: 92% of all Cargus deliveries reach their recipients the day after pick-up. three-year strategy, the first step was to build a solid foundation, to improve the logistical infrastructure and to prepare the organisation to offer the best courier service on the market.
- What were the reasons for satisfaction or optimism in 2021?
The Cargus Mobile app and the acquisition of QeOPS are just two of the reasons for Cargus’ satisfaction in 2021. Cargus Mobile was named „Best app by a courier company” at the Romanian Courier & Postal Services Business Awards 2021, organized by GovNet, and this summer’s acquisition of QeOPS was named transaction of the year in the courier market.
Cargus Mobile App is the result of our ambition to meet specific customer needs and provide them with an innovative tool that enhances the delivery experience. The recognition we have received through this award honours us and confirms that we have succeeded in creating a truly useful and extraordinary tool. It also proves we innovate at every step and we succeed in being ahead of the competition, a game changer in the courier industry. In less than two months since its launch, Cargus Mobile has entered the top 5 business apps in Romania on Google Play. It has also entered the top 30 utility apps in the Appstore and is highlighted as a trending app for iOS users.
The acquisition of QeOPS has allowed us to expand our offering, providing our customers with e-fulfillment services that support streamlined operations. Thanks to our capabilities and infrastructure, combined with the QeOPS solution, Cargus’ customers now benefit from specialized solutions that substantially enhance their shipping operations.
- How do you characterize the private business environment in Romania in 2021 in terms of resilience and dynamics? Why?
Romania’s private business environment was more cautious in 2021. Dynamically only in sectors where the economic and social situation has imposed it, and I mean the courier industry, retail or the e-commerce area. The other areas, I would say, were characterized by more careful, more conservative economic manifestations on the part of companies. Resilience has been one of the objectives, where the economic impact of the pandemic has been stronger. Companies and small and medium-sized enterprises have remained on a wait-and-see basis in order to recover when the time is right. That may well be 2022. We have adapted, faced the challenges, experimented, studied the evolution of others and gained the necessary knowledge for Romania’s private business environment to become more daring than in 2021.
- What are the good decisions that the government has made to encourage and support the business environment in Romania in 2021? What are the things he was supposed to do but didn’t do?
The two years of the pandemic have been full of challenges, a time when Romanian companies have faced the pandemic and the health crisis, uncertainty, insecurity, cyber threats, a decline in the health of the workforce or changing consumer behaviors. All this has generated concern among Romanian investors, managers and entrepreneurs.
Without any doubt, it is not easy to manage such a crisis at national level, and these difficult times called for decisive actions at government level as well.
I believe that, in 2021, the Romanian authorities managed to increase the level of confidence and predictability by extending some facilities and accelerating the adoption of measures required by the business environment (tax consolidation, deduction of losses from uncollected invoices, non-taxable benefits for employees, VAT recovery for invoices older than one year uncollected from individuals, etc.).
- What do you think will be the biggest challenges in the world in 2022?
One of the biggest challenges we will face this year, and inherit from 2021, will be the spread of the Omicron mutation of COVID-19, which may lead to additional restrictions on economic activities. Also on the list are: inflation, which is more difficult to predict, increases in costs of production, transport, energy and gas, volatility of the financial markets and the depreciation of the leu-euro exchange rate, as well as the challenge of budgetary policies, as governments have spent a lot of resources on support measures for the sectors affected by the pandemic.
But, despite these prospects, I believe that the Romanian business environment is a little more optimistic than it has been in the last 2 years and new economic growth rates are expected for 2022. Companies have learned the lesson of the COVID crisis, they have sought and found solutions that allow them to continue their business beyond the negative effects of the pandemic.