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HSBC’s global network underpins expansion plans

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Logistics firm Freight Systems is going global with help from HSBC’s extensive footprint, powerful online banking tools and unparalleled relationship management.

Freight Systems, a UAE-based global logistics solutions provider, is expecting record revenues this year, with the shipping industry flourishing despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Since its establishment in 1988, the company has rapidly increased its geographical footprint, especially in the Middle East and India. It is one of the world’s leading freight forwarders, serving customers in over 30 countries.

With freight forwarding as its core business, the company has also diversified into logistics, removals, project cargo forwarding and outbound logistics. Its e-commerce solutions arm, FSL Shop Easy, operates a 36,000-pallet regional distribution centre in Dubai serving the GCC and North Africa.

Other services include custom brokerage, buyer’s consolidation, container freight stations, project management, international relocations, fine arts and exhibitions.

Freight Systems case study

This helped Freight Systems achieve revenues of U.S.$200 million and a healthy EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization) of U.S.$11 million in the financial year that ended in March.

“We should hit record numbers this financial year because there has been quite a turn in the industry over the last 15 to 18 months,” says Aroop Datta, Group Chief Financial Officer (CFO) at Freight Systems.

“When the pandemic struck, a lot of small players moved away but we have gotten stronger. Our top line has grown and our bottom line is also growing,” he says.

Looking to navigate safely through the adversity, cash-strong Freight Systems focused on payment collections and refrained from providing any new credit to its customers.

Cash is king during these times and those who have been able to manage their cash have been doing very well.

Aroop Datta | Group Chief Financial Officer, Freight Systems.

Global partner

HSBC is a preferred banking partner for Freight Systems, with its extensive global network supporting the company’s business growth across all the markets it operates in with, until now, the exception of India.

This will soon change, as HSBC will be supporting Freight Systems on one of it’s biggest projects in northern India, thereby completing the bank’s full support for the company across the world.

“HSBC’s global network is quite fantastic and we are very excited about India. HSBC has been the most friendly bank for us and our Relationship Manager is one of the best bankers in this industry,” Datta says.

“The relationship management of HSBC is quite superior to some of the other international banks that are out there. It gives me a lot of comfort as a CFO that I can pick up the phone and speak to my Relationship Manager anytime,” he adds.

Seamless online banking

The bank’s powerful and intuitive online HSBCnet platform, as well as less burdensome documentation requirements to set up financing facilities, are other banking strengths that bring a lot of value to Freight Systems.

“When I come in every morning, the first thing I do is open HSBCnet, where I can see everything I need right in front of me. I can process any approval that comes to me from anywhere in the world just from that screen,” Datta says.

Expansion plans

Over the next few years, Freight Systems aims to expand its operations in the United States, China and Africa, using Dubai as a major regional logistics hub for cargo movements between these destinations.

Along with the Indian project, the company is also building another warehouse in Qatar capital Doha, adding extra storage capacity to its four large warehouse locations in Dubai with a total area of 66,000 square meters.

“We are very keen on asset building. We have just acquired a business from Hapag-Lloyd, so that is going to take us to another level,” Datta says.

“The next 12 to 18 months will be very exciting times,” he says.

Compliance and employee retention key

Compliance with rules and regulations as well as creating an inviting environment to retain employees in the long term are key for Freight Systems. The company employs 259 people across the region.

“One key message that I would like to convey is compliance. Even though we are a family business, we are very particular about compliance and do audits very regularly and diligently all across the globe,” Datta says.

“Another key factor is employee retention. We are in the service industry, where relationships are very important, as well as creating a friendly and warm environment that makes people stick around. That’s success,” he concludes.

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