Kuwait’s Agility Logistics is expected to resume a growth in revenue next year as emerging markets business expands and the company develops new sectors, CEO Tarek Sultan said.
Sultan, who took over leadership of Agility in 1997 when the company was privatised, told Reuters that a big focus for the company next year would be supporting supply chains for the oil and gas industry in Africa, in countries such as Angola and Ghana.
The logistics of fuel handling is one of the areas where Agility is experiencing rapid growth, alongside the development of industrial parks and ground handling, and Sultan noted: “Taking a granular view of our businesses, they are showing improvement across the board.”
Sultan revealed plans to invest heavily in the business of providing industrial warehousing infrastructure, and specifically in the launch of five industrial park projects in Africa next year.
Agility’s core logistics and freight forwarding businesses has by contrast been hit by the instability in the global economy over the last few years, resulting in a 7% drop in revenue to $2.28bn in the first half of this year, also following a 3% drop in 2013.
“Globally, revenues have been affected by conditions that have challenged the freight forwarding industry,” Sultan said, and Agility has only kept profits growing by keeping salaries and benefits flat in the first half even as net income climbed by 11% to $83.3m.
In the past, Agility has maintained a rapacious pace of growth by spending hundreds of millions of dollars around the world on strategic acquisitions, but Sultan declines to reveal whether this would be an active part of the group’s strategy within Africa.
However, Agility already operates in 11 countries on the continent, with a significant involvement in its ports, and Sultan did note that while Agility focuses on organic growth, it is open to “any business opportunities that might be accretive in value for our shareholders.”
The group is also responsible for releasing its own emerging markets index, which in 2014 saw Saudi Arabia climb to the third sport as a favoured location for trade, followed by the UAE in 6th and Qatar, Oman, Kuwait and Bahrain ranked at 12, 13, 18 and 22, respectively.
With 500 offices in more than 100 countries, and more than 20,000 employees, Agility remains a Kuwaiti success story, and market confidence in the firm remains high – evident in share price rise of 86% since 2012, compared to gain of only 24% for Kuwait’s main index.