Double digit growth marks 25 years of Ahlers Russia

2018, a festive year for Ahlers in Russia

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Ahlers Russia

Last Friday 9th February it has been exactly 25 years  since president Christian Leysen officially opened the very first Ahlers office in 1993 in St Petersburg. Today, Ahlers Russia consists of 250 people working in offices and warehouses in St Petersburg, Moscow, Chelyabinsk, Novorossiysk and Novosibirsk. In the past three years, Ahlers realized a double digit growth in the CIS region.

Originally Ahlers expanded into Russia for their agency activities: a biweekly liner service between the ports of Antwerp and St Petersburg. Due to popular demand International Forwarding and Customs Brokerage expanded the local service offer soon after. By the year 2000 Ahlers Russia started the construction of their first warehouse in St Petersburg (currently 45,000 m2).

As the import from Europe to Russia started increasing rapidly, Ahlers Russia decided to anticipate their European customers’ needs by focusing on warehousing and inland truck transport instead of sea freight. Safety and delivery security were genuine problems in the region and Ahlers Russia became one of the few companies to comply with the high demands set by the importers.

In the past 25 years the export of fast moving consumer goods to the Russian market grew enormously despite local legislation which makes it particularly difficult for foreign companies to gain access to the country. Foreign suppliers are obliged to set up a local entity or go through a Russian distributor. RusImport, one of Ahlers Russia’s latest services, offers a third option.  By acting as a neutral intermediary with a Russian entity they can do what their customers can’t: doing business in Russia. RusImport is booming. For example, Ahlers was the fifth largest coffee importer in the country in 2017.

Warehousing is the most important service for Ahlers Russia. The company owns and operates warehousing space in four different regions. The other services (RusImport, Project cargo management and data analytics) are also growing on all fronts.

Entrepreneurship has always been a keystone for Ahlers and that is exactly the quality that made the activities in Russia bloom. “We never back down, but choose to take on the challenges as they come our way,” says Stefan Van Doorslaer, managing director Ahlers Russia: “This country is unique, but one has to embrace the unknown in order to succeed. I have the good fortune of working with a very strong local team. They made it possible for us to put down real roots in this region, which is essential for growth. My colleagues are experts in what they do and feel a real connection to Ahlers. An ideal combination to grow even more in the years to come.

Are you interested in talking to us about our activities in and for the Russian market? 

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