Major push creates openings

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 07 February, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 07 February, 2009, 12:00am

'Truly good performers' are wanted by freight forwarder

Freight forwarder in the vehicle industry Ceva Logistics will focus on recruiting top professionals with leadership skills as it transfers its know-how into the mainland.

The logistics market is huge on the mainland and Ceva, on annual capital spending of US$15 million, is expanding its operations from 40 to 100 cities and has set a sales target of Euro1.4 billion (HK$15.82 billion) for the mainland next year.

The aggressive growth will be boosted by mainland sales, forecast to be 70 per cent compared with 60 per cent of sales last year, or Euro700 million.

Ceva's Greater China president and chief executive, Charlie Jing, said Hong Kong professionals could play a leading role in the company's growth. He is cautiously optimistic that ambitious sales targets will be met despite the adverse economic climate.

'We will remain cautious in the short term but confident in the long term as GDP growth in China looks set to continue in the 7 per cent range,' Mr Jing said.

'Job opportunities on the mainland as a whole depend on which business it is. Investment, infrastructure and materials will be different from import/export, which will be more cautious. Others, focused on domestic consumption, will continue to provide opportunities and will remain positive in outlook. Most companies in China are preparing for a short-term slowdown, but for long-term growth.

'The best talent may be reluctant to change jobs in the [present] situation unless it is an attractive alternative. From a recruitment perspective, I think most companies will be hiring cautiously, focusing on high-level appointments.'

Ceva, which employs 54,000 worldwide and runs an extensive global network with facilities in more than 100 countries, is seeking to transfer its industry know-how into the mainland, which global chief executive John Pattullo has said lacked logistics talent.

Mr Jing said Ceva was not shy about bringing in new talent, and the company's approach was to solidify. Its new hub at Chek Lap Kok will be a platform for developing talent which could be transferred to hubs in Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Shanghai and, later, cities in northern China.

'We are looking for truly good performers to join our most productive areas and drive growth in China. Hong Kong talent will play a big part in our overall plan. Since integration in 1997, Hongkongers have learned much about mainland business practices and there is a willingness to adapt, learn and manage it. The mindset is suitable to function successfully in this environment.

'In terms of transferring staff from Hong Kong to the mainland, we would assess our existing resources and decide what is required,' Mr Jing said.

The opening of the hub in September last year, with direct airside access, will enable more efficient handling of larger airfreight volume. The Hong Kong warehouse will be used to consolidate import and export freight shipments for both South China and Hong Kong. With a yearly capacity of 145,000 tonnes the 6,500-square-metre facility will provide direct airside lodgment of export cargo from Hong Kong and South China, ensuring the quickest possible export and import services with maximum security and control.

Ceva's development plan involves a greater focus on domestic transport, freight management, and investments to further strengthen its position as the leading logistics provider to the automotive, technology and retail and consumer industries on the mainland. Mr Jing said sales and solutions professionals would be in demand in tandem with growth, and account management skills would be highly valued.

'We will be looking for people with solid solution design capabilities and market knowledge. Of course we are always interested in recruiting talented salespeople. There is tremendous opportunity for growth in the forwarding sector especially - 95 per cent of our business is now forwarding in China.

'It is a fully integrated service, which is great for employees in terms of gaining knowledge and growing their careers. We offer a great deal of cross training between product lines, which other companies in the industry can't.'

Ceva was formed in 2006 with the acquisition of the former logistics division of Holland's TNT Logistics followed by a takeover of the Houston-based freight forwarder Eagle Global Logistics last year. Before being taken over by Ceva, TNT Logistics formed a joint venture with Shanghai Automotive Industry Sales Corporation in 2004 to provide logistics services for finished vehicles and after-sales solutions for carmakers.

That has become one of two Shanghai-based joint ventures between Ceva and a mainland firm. Ceva's major mainland clients include Shanghai Automotive Industry Sales Corporation, Lenovo Group and Haier Group. CEVA Group revenue for the third quarter last year was Euro1.7 billion. Both contract logistics and freight management operations showed growth of 10 per cent compared with the same quarter in 2007.