TCS: 20 YEARS OF QUALITY SERVICE
TCS offers a range of document, parcel and cargo services, many of them not offered by anyone else
By SYED M. ASLAM
May 05 - 18, 2003
TCS is one of the leading pioneers in the courier industry of Pakistan. It has a strong presence not only in Pakistan but also in the Middle East and North America — its headquarter is located in Greater Toronto area of Canada. TCS short history reads like a modern-day success story. It has come a long way since it started operations 20 years ago in Pakistan.
On its first day of business — May 3, 1983- TCS booked just 25 shipments across the country — a figure which has multiplied 8,000-folds with an average daily bookings and pick-ups of over 200,000 in Pakistan alone to emerge as the country's top courier service today. It offers services to cater all needs and all pockets. TCS has emerged as the most trusted name for delivering a wide range of time-sensitive documents, packages, parcels and cargoes not only to destination within Pakistan but also to destinations across the world. It has the biggest fleet in the organized sector in Pakistan comprising over 100 vehicles — 22 trucks, 20 inter-city runners and the remaining within-the-city transport vehicles. It also has a network of 200 Express Centres across the country backed by a fleet of over 1,200 motorcycle riding couriers. TCS has a 3,000-strong workforce and prefers to call its staff and workers as 'our people.' And a 24-hour Customer Service is always on stand-by.
TCS offers a range of document, parcel and cargo services, many of them not offered by anyone else. It offers a wide range of document delivery services — both domestic and international — as well as the country's premier gift service, the Sentiment Express, through which one can send over 60 exclusive products including garden-fresh flowers, scrumptious cakes, mouth-watering sweets, cuddly stuffed toys, luxurious leather goods and elegant watches suitable for all festivities and occasions be it Eid, Christmas, birthday, anniversary, Valentine's day, promotion, to make someone feel special. The service is available to 120 destinations across the country.
It also offers bulk shipment services delivered door-to-door through one of the largest truck fleets in the organized sector in Pakistan. The Overland cargo services are scheduled for daily departures from all the major cities of Pakistan and has recently started a Logistics & e-Logistics services to offer supply chain logistics to the industries, particularly the manufacturing sector, serving as automated warehousing and inventory systems. The service will help the manufacturers to pass on warehousing and inventory system operations to the TCS for automated pick-up and delivery as and when required thus giving more time to them to divert their attention to their core activity — manufacturing. Online integration with the inventory systems of the customer companies ensures pick-up and delivery management system which is automated to help save warehousing and inventory costs to the companies.
TCS also offers international delivery services — World Fast Documents and WorldFast Parcel Express — to over 3,500 destinations across the world through its extended International Network.
Besides the large road fleet, TCS is the only courier in Pakistan having its own aircraft for truly self-reliant air transport facility. The aircraft are also available for charter for any specialised cargo movement and cargo vehicles and vans can also be rented on daily or monthly basis.
Talking to PAGE, the Senior Manager Aviation Farrukh Zaheer said that TCS started its aviation operations with a single chartered cargo aircarft on May 30, 2001 and inducted a second aircraft two month later in July the same year. TCS air fleet comprises two Antonov 26 cargo aircrafts each with a cargo capacity of 5.5 tonnes. The combined cargo carrying capacity of these chartered aircrafts at present thus totals 11 tonnes. However, TCS is in the process of replacing the existing fleet of chartered aircraft with ones on wet lease. It will be inducting with 4 aircraft — 2 Antonov 26 and 2 bigger Antonov 26 — this month to push the combined cargo carrying capacity to 47 tonnes. Antonov 26 has a cargo capacity of 5.5 tonnes each and Antonov 12 has a cargo capacity of 18 tonnes each.
The combined capacity of the two chartered aircraft is 11 tonne. However, the growing volume of cargo has necessitated the need for induction of 4 additional aircraft on wet lease by the TCS which will increase its lifting capacity to 45-50 tonnes — enough not only to meet the existing demand but to also meet the demands which is expected to grow in the years to come. TCS aircraft are presently making touch downs at 5 airports across the country in the night and with soon-to-be inducted aircrafts the frequency would increase to 8 airports across the country.
Farrukh said that lease and jet fuel prices collectively make up the biggest portion of operating expenses. "Lease and jet fuel adds up to claim between 80-85 per cent of the total operating costs of a cargo aircraft such as the ones used by the TCS. On an average an increase of Rs 1 per litre in the price of jet fuel translates into increased expense of Rs half a million per month for us. Though the jet fuel prices in Pakistan are competitively priced we always keenly watch every single price adjustment two times a month due to the inherent impact it would have on our expenses."
He informed PAGE that though petroleum prices were reduced for the third consecutive forthnight on May 1, the prices of jet fuel was increased by 0.14 rupees to an average — average because the price of jet fuel differs slightly at different airports across the country — Rs 13.86 per litre inclusive of all taxes. He attributed the increase in the prices of jet fuel on the increase of kerosene oil — by Rs 0.23 to Rs 19.25 per litre — as the price of the former is linked to the price of latter. The Rs 0.14 increase in the price of jet fuel thus would be translating into additional fuel costs of Rs 430,000 per month to the TCS.
JAMIL JANJUA: THE CEO
Talking to PAGE, the chief Executive Officer of TCS Jamil Janjua highlighted the importance of courier service in Pakistan, not unlike elsewhere, saying that it has helped expedite the flow of communication be it personal, business or corporate and in the process has helped improve the economy by providing an efficient, reliable, dependable choice to people in a country reeling from a postal service which was in complete disarray previously. He said that it has helped the business and corporate sector as well as the banks and financial institutions to ensure timely delivery and pick-up of trade documents — cheques, LCs, samples, etc. — and a whole range of other such materials such as parcels, both within and outside the country to expedite decision-making.
Mr. Janjua, a commercial pilot who served with national flag carrier Pakistan International Airline (PIA) for 12 years, joined TCS in 1986 as Operations Manager and has remained associated with it all along except between 1997 and 2001 during which period he worked with British Council Karachi. He was offered to re-join TCS and joined it once again as Chief Operating Officer in May 2001 and was made its CEO about six months later. PAGE asked Mr. Janjua about the impact of the emergence of courier service on the postal system. "TCS started its operations in Pakistan twenty years ago primarily as a sister company of DHL to help manage the local operations. Though TCS parted ways with the DHL soon afterwards and while the two are different entitles at present, the courier services really complement the postal service. It has brought in healthy competition to helped the postal service improve its services. TCS, in particular, has set up a bench mark to help improve the overall quality and standards in the industry. "We never treated the postal service as a competitor as theirs is a different market which is much more bigger than ours. However, we have contributed to help them improve the standard to help the postal service to improve its overall performance to regain the credibility it lost over the years. The posts service is not only aware of the growing demand for quality service today but it has also taken a number of measures to better its service."
COURIER BUSINESS AND POSTAL SERVICES
The attempts on the part of the authorities of the postal system to introduce new services and improve the existing ones aimed at instilling the public confidence would not have come without the presence of courier services despite the fact that postal and courier services are aimed at two different segments of the market. However, Pakistan Postal Service floated a warning in the print media early last year advising the people not to use courier services by evoking Postal Act of 1897. Mr. Janjua feels that the law should be amended to reflect the realities of today. He said that the Post Office Act of 1897 stipulates that picking up the mail was the sole prerogative of the Post Office adding that courier service providers, including his company, are not picking up the mail but rather picking up the documents as mentioned on forms filled by the people. In addition, the law has been changed in the UK, the former colonial master, itself. "An important aspect of the antiquated law is that it fails to provide an adequate definition of the word 'letter.' In any case, in the changed world of today the law should be made realistic. The courier operators like to work with the Post Office as a partner and do not view the post office as a competitor. This gesture on the part of the courier operators needs to be reciprocated."
"In most countries of the world the public sector postal services and growing side by side with the private courier operators. Here in Pakistan, we are also happy to note the positive pro-customer approach adopted lately by the Pakistan Post Office. The ultimate beneficiary of this healthy competition will be the customers as any competition which is based on fairplay and best business practices always result in market expansion and overall growth of the business."
Mr. Janjua also stressed on the need for the establishment of Transport Regulatory body but also advocates the importance of a free market economy. "Any ceiling on rates or any arbitrary setting of standards will do more harm than good. Such interferences may lead to inefficiencies and will also take a toll on the quality of service. In addition, due to the inherent conflict of interest the public postal service is just not acceptable as a regulator because it does have a direct stake in the business. I feel that as long as the players abide by the rules there is no rationale for intervention."
Does the latest communication technologies — the phenomenal increase in the use of Internet, e-mail and mobile — have an adverse impact on the courier business? No, says Mr. Janjua. "It has created new opportunities in term of new services despite resulting in reduction of certain drop in some types of documents. It has rather created new markets and new services for the courier business. For instance, the Amazon dot.com, the world's biggest book seller online, has to use courier service to delivery its products. The same is the case with all other online auction and B-2-C e-commerce sites which have to use the couriers for delivering products bought online. We ourselves have benefited from online banking services, like elsewhere here in Pakistan as well, as credit cards and mobile phone bills are delivered by the couriers. In addition, there is the legal aspect whereby only original documents of certain documents and only hard copies of another set of documents are acceptable. Despite predictions completely paperless offices don't still exist. Yes there has been an impact but the advantages have so far offset any and all losses combined. Latest technologies have been rather beneficial to the courier service providers."
Mr. Janjua feels that Pakistani market offers immense potential for courier operators, particularly for the leading courier operator such as the TCS. "I feel that the courier and mail delivery business will grow at a steady pace her in Pakistan. However, the major opportunities will come from logistics, warehousing and inventory management as well as from the ground transport and aviation sector. We have made appropriate investments and right plans in all these areas to play the pioneering role once again.
"There are promising signs all over — the economy is improving if one look at the substantial increase in the sales of new cars. However, it would get even better if and when the construction industry takes off. The demand will definitely increase in near future particularly for the TCS which has introduced such new and unique services as warehousing to ensure safe, secure and strategically located warehouses along with computerized inventory management system for hassle-free shipments facilitating timely retrieval and anywhere within the country. TCS has already signed contracts to provide this service with a number of companies including the Indus Motor Company, the local producers of Toyota cars."
INVESTMENT & MARKET
Head of Marketing of TCS, Najeeb Nayyer, informed PAGE that the company has made direct as well indirect investment of around Rs 200 million during the last two years. "What has prompted us to make this investment is that we have seen positive signs of growth after 9/11. The encouraging signs have been all over; infrastructure developments projects like the Gwadar Port and Railways; the beginning of policing by the National Highway Authority; substantial drop in the cost of capital; drastic cut in the bandwidth rates by the Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited; expansion of the Lahore International Airport; construction of a new export cargo terminal at Karachi, etc., etc. TCS purchased 700 motorcycles for its couriers. We have inducted the latest technology and TCS has its own Virtual Private Network (VPN) to connect all its centres around the world to track data to ensure smooth and seamless flow of shipments 24-hours a day. In addition the 200 TCS outlets across the country are now computerized and most of them are linked by WAN and Internet."
Najeeb informed PAGE that 80 per cent of all the TCS shipments comprise documents while the remaining 20 per cent consist of parcels. "Though documents still make the biggest part of TCS business trends show that our business is moving towards parcels by each passing year. In last three years the volume of parcel business has registered a healthy growth of as much as 300 per cent.
"Corporate sector is the biggest user of our services. Around 75 per cent of our entire business comes from the corporate sector while the remaining 25 per cent comes from individuals and others. The volume of business from these two main category of cients has registered a steady growth during last three years and the growing parcel business indicates that the economic reforms of the government have been successful to great extent."
Putting the size of the courier market in Pakistan at Rs 4 billion Najeeb said that it is evenly divided between the domestic and international business. "There is Rs 2 billion market for courier services for both the domestic and international each. TCS is market leader in the domestic courier business sharing 50 per cent of the business while its share in the international business is a healthy 10-12 per cent."
TCS feels that growth in near future will come from international business as evident from tremendous growth in the volume of parcels during the last few years and as trends show that remaining cost-effective in the domestic market is dependent heavily on turnover. "We have our international hub in Dubai and is now developing it into a niche. TCS has elaborate arrangements with international operators to provide the fastest connection worldwide from Pakistan. TCS has affiliations with such giants as DHL and Fedex in the US, OCS in Japan, TNT in the UK and Aramex in the Middle East to provide its customers the top notch services."
Najeeb said that TCS is aware of the growing demand for quality of service and understands the importance on the induction of latest technology — rather integration of three types of technologies within its infrastructure namely information technology, communication technology and transportation technology. "Our competitors do not have the tracking system we are using for the last 12 years. We will be investing another Rs 200 million over next 2-3 years the biggest portion of which will be spent on induction of latest technology. TCS invests heavily in acquiring new technologies and upgrade its existing infrastructure to provide maximum speed, reliability and efficiency. We will investing in latest technologies not only to provide the best possible services to our customers but also to help us handle large volumes of ever growing business to optimize our costs."