Only losers from Brexit despite logistics opportunities, says DP DHL CEO
In Logistics conference in Berlin
Brexit will hit both the UK and Europe by making business more complex, even though it could generate short-term opportunities for logistics providers, Deutsche Post DHL CEO Frank Appel said today.
“There will be only losers in the long-run. Protectionism is bad and free trade is good,” he declared at the Leaders in Logistics Post & Parcel Europe conference in Berlin in response to questions after a keynote speech.
Appel mentioned that DP DHL’s annual study on the connectivity of countries showed that those “who are well-connected are economically strong”. He said: “The countries who are most open are flourishing.”
However, the UK’s forthcoming exit from the European Union will create complexity for business and as a result, customers might turn to Deutsche Post DHL to help them overcome these problems, he said.
“In the short term it will create opportunities for logistics companies. We will probably make money because customers will come to us,” he commented.
But he emphasised: “I’m not for Brexit. In the long run it’s bad because it will have negative effects on the UK and Europe.”
Asked about his views on e-commerce giants such as Amazon and Alibaba, Appel responded: “We see Amazon as a strong partner. We helped to grow their business and they helped us to grow. Our business will grow very nicely with them. I see them as a strong partner, not a threat.”
In his keynote presentation, the DP DHL CEO told an audience of some 200 postal industry managers, suppliers and other stakeholders that the German group had embarked on a digital strategy combining ‘Technology Exploitation’ to improve customer experience and ‘Business Exploration’ with new business models and ideas, including by leveraging internal demand.
He cited examples of innovations including the Postbot (a self-driving robot to carry parcels), Augmented Reality smart glasses and the collaborative sorting robot Sawyer in warehouses, the Saloodo freight transport online platform and DHL’s On Demand Delivery service.
On Saloodo, he commented: “It might cannibalise our core business in future but that’s better than being replaced. And if it doesn’t work, then others will not succeed either.”
Appel also said that DP DHL has put about 5,500 of its self-produced Streetscooter delivery vans into operation so far, and expects its manufacturing subsidiary company to produce about 15,000 – 20,000 more this year.
The long-serving CEO, who is a trained scientist, urged the industry to embrace new technologies and digitalization, which were often not as complex as they sounded. “Digitalisation is not difficult. I recently programmed my first bot. It’s not that tricky. You can programme a robot.”