11:45pm 11th June 2020
I had the pleasure to have a casual chat with Khun Kettivit Sittisoontornwong a member of the FPS Group Board and in Thailand the owner of Leo Logistics.
Although we are both located in the Land of Smiles, we communicated by Skype to respect the Government social distancing.
Khun Kettivit, thanks for taking the time to talk with me.
FPS Group is the longest existing network worldwide and with a good reputation.
When you started up FPS with Sam and Iskandar, what were you targeting to achieve.
As you know three of us, Sam, Iskandar and I decided to take over the network and further develop it.
As you state, we are the oldest established network worldwide and it is regarded as having a membership specialising in LCL consolidation traffic.
We are not aiming to be the biggest network but one of the leading quality networks and we are not limiting the skills of the members now to be limited only to sea traffic, but airfreight and other logistics skills.
We are seeking to increase our membership with active agents to join what I consider to be a family of pro-active members helping each other to develop business together in a trusting and straightforward environment.
We continue to work towards constantly building as a network of skilled dynamic members and to be considered as the leading NVOCC freight forwarding network in the world.
What would you say to a potential new member to your network to convince them to join?
Being a member of our network can allow the member to work within our network and move cargoes by our members consolidation services.
Clearly, sea freight is slower, but the cost of air freight has rocketed during the past 3 months.
What I can say is that as we all know we are in the middle of the Covid 19 Pandemic and everybody in the world is suffering and the freight forwarding industry is being hit by the sharp increase of airfreight costs reaching 4 -5 times the normal cost.
Last week the going rate for airfreight from Thailand to USA was at 300 Baht per kilo! So, if you can imagine having 5000 kilos at 300 baht per kilo, that gives a total of 1.5 million baht or approximately 48,000 US$.
That’s a scary price and obviously making the product prohibitively expensive.
Absolutely, even computer and hi-tech products can’t stand that sort of price.
There is however, the alternative solution for members to take advantage of the sea-air services available operated by our members.
For example, traffic for Europe can be shipped to Dubai and then by air to final destination.
Likewise, traffic for the USA can be shipped to South Korea or Hong Kong and from there by air to USA destinations.
This offers a lower cost than normal airfreight rates and gets the job done faster which in today’s current market, is crucial as there is a great deal of PPE and other medical shipments urgently required to help save lives.
Being part of our network will create new business opportunities and the member can offer services worldwide to its clients which it is unable to do working outside our network.
Many of our members have known each other for more than 20 years and are trustworthy partners.
To sum up, there are many attractive benefits on offer to companies joining our membership and we invite interested member to get in touch with us to find out more.
Touching on the Covid 19 Pandemic, business worldwide has been affected by it. What strategy has FPS followed to help the membership and what has been the advice to members to help them through this difficult period?
Frankly speaking, what we have done during the past 2 – 3 months, is that we have been updating the membership worldwide, advising them of the situation and restrictions in place in each country.
We have encouraged our members to develop new business to replace lost business and there is a strong will by our members to focus on this.
Of course, our members support each other wherever possible and we have maintained giving administrative and moral support to all the members.
During this time we all need to be proactive and that is what we are seeing from our membership.
With regard to Covid 19 in Thailand, we both are aware that Thailand seems to have been less affected by the virus compared with other countries.
What would you say is the reason for Thailand escaping serious fatalities as elsewhere?
Do you believe that it is due to the mentality of the Thai people to respect the lockdown restrictions imposed by the government or is it something else?
I think overall we have been very lucky. Before Covid 19 in Thailand we had some pollution problems and many people were wearing facemasks when going outside.
This may have been a factor which could have helped reduce infections.
What I would also admire is the Government’s decision to declare an emergency, implement a lockdown nationwide and strictly control the number of tourist and other visitors.
When the lockdown and curfew was introduced the Thai people had a responsible attitude and followed the rules clearly helping things.
Also, families, companies, and others, including government organisations, started introducing safety features before the government introduced the lockdown, so, therefore we moved early as a country, and this has shown positive results.
In my own company we decided to introduce safety features respecting social distancing, using hand sanitizer in the office, using masks and having some staff members working from home.
And these were measures that many companies and individuals took before the lockdown which obviously helped a great deal to restrict the spread of the virus!
How would you say your business in Thailand has been affected by the virus situation?
My business during February was seriously affected mainly because of Chinese New Year and of course the Pandemic so for the first quarter we have seen a drop in revenue of about 20%.
Having spoken with other friends operating here, this drop of 20% is much better than other companies have experienced.
Some companies specializing more with airfreight shipments have seen drops of 40 -50%.
Luckily for us, we are not relying mainly on China as we are dealing with several other countries in Asia and Europe.
Recently, do you find that Vietnam has come more into view as a big exporter and manufacturer.
It seems that some manufacturing has moved away from China to Vietnam. Have you noticed this trend?
Yes, this has been a trend over the past few years, there have been a lot of changes there and they have become extremely competitive.
Thailand has also seen increased business within ASEAN and we have seen a considerable increase of business out of Thailand.
How do you see the future for FPS Group? Have you plans for further expansion of the membership and are there some changes that you may like to implement in the structure?
Yes of course. For the structure we already plan to develop and increase the membership.
As you know, in the past, our network was an exclusive one with only one member in each country.
We have changed the structure as we have found that the exclusive nature gave some limitations on the portfolio of services our members could provide to their clients.
We found that some companies were strong in sea freight but perhaps weaker in airfreight.
We have therefore opened up and we now have 2 or 3 members in each country offering a wider range of skills, thereby benefitting our members and their clients.
Our aim is that the members in each country complement each other and develop business together rather than working competitively against each other.
Our focus is on quality, not quantity and potential members are thoroughly checked out before being accepted as members.
Khun Kettivit, I’d like to thank you for your time and I’d like to wish you and your membership successful progress in achieving your goals.
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