A multinational logistics, courier and package delivery company, Aramex, is partnering the Graphic Communications Group Limited (GCGL) to boost the courier business arm of the latter for mutual benefit.
Under the partnership, Aramex is seeking to make the Graphic Courier its exclusive partner for the booking of its international shipments and exclusive partner doing domestic delivery except in Accra and Kumasi.
In turn, Aramex will become Graphic Courier's exclusive partner for international express and import shipment as well as its last mile delivery in Ghana.
Established in 1982, Aramex currently has presence in 240 countries, has more than 33,000 vehicles and over 66,000 employees facilitating its business while the Graphic Courier has the existing trusted and robust distribution infrastructure.
On Monday, the Country Manager of Aramex, Mr Marc Maroun, called on the Managing Director of the GCGL, Mr Ato Afful, to explore and further discuss the partnership opportunities.
The country manager described the GCGL as a very trusted, promising and well-structured brand that it could leverage to increase its visibility in the country and the sub-region while enhancing the courier business of the largest selling newspaper in the country.
Also at the meeting were the Editor of the Daily Graphic, Mr Kobby Asmah, the acting Director of Marketing and Sales, Mr Kwaku Tweneboah Ofosu, and the Chief Executive Officer of Techmaaxx International, Mr KVS Nathan.
Mr Maroun said the partnership would also help enhance e-commerce from any part of the world, with any currency while making accessible e-payment platforms such as PayPal locally.
“We have high aspirations for this partnership and would be very happy to have the Graphic Communications Group Limited as a business partner as we aggressively expand across the country and Africa. We started four to five years ago in Ghana with 20 people but today we are almost hitting a hundred.
“Today, I think we are still small, but we have built the base and we understand a bit of the market and we want to scale up. Our proposed partnership with GCGL is the first step to the scaling up agenda.
“And today we want to hear from you on your aspirations on how we can partner to scale up what we are doing for mutual benefit and take it to the level to become a service-oriented player in the industry,” he said.
The country manager of Aramex said he saw a big market opportunity in the proposed area of our partnership with the GCGL and underscored the need to step up the game by stepping up a certain niche in the game to attract the desired clientele.
“Choosing you is in line with our bid to achieving that purpose. In terms of technology, Aramex is quite advanced because we have been investing in technology for so many years“.
“But particularly in the last three years, we have stepped up the game by investing close to $120 billion and expecting to do more. We have set up in Nigeria as well,” he said.
He said his company had set up a free zones facility at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos and was also setting up a logistics facility in Nigeria.
He said Aramex was spreading across West Africa to East Africa down to Central Africa.
He said Aramex was also coming up with some aviation solutions.
He assured the GCGL team that Aramex would ensure that transparency was at the centre of the partnership to avoid any kind of misunderstanding and overlaps.
“We believe that you can add value to our organisation and we can also definitely add value to yours. So from that perspective, I see a lot of synergies and we see a lot of common factors that will help us scale up our respective businesses.
Mr Afful said the partnership was a good one to discuss and explore because it could help expand the Graphic Communications Group's diversification agenda.
He said with the Graphic Courier infrastructure, the company was poised to go into such a partnership for mutual benefit.
However, he said the company would not relent in due diligence in the delivery of its core mandate.
“Beyond diversifying to make some money, we want to fulfil a certain national mandate and that is key to the strategic mandate. We would continue to do due diligence in any partnership we enter into, because we do not want to embarrass our shareholder and clients,” he said.
He said on the back of its core newspaper business, which started over 40 years ago, it had leveraged its infrastructure and capacity to distribute the newspapers nationwide to start its courier service, which had grown into the Graphic Courier.
He said Graphic Courier, to enhance its business, had partnered Techmaaxx International for its technology integration which allowed a nationwide connection of all 40+ collection and booking points; tracking, weight and cost-checking and accessing delivery time, as well, in order to give Ghanaians a superior courier service.
He mentioned other areas in which the GCGL was venturing into to include warehousing and a public responsive clinic.
“So these are the kinds of things we are doing and we will find the right partners to enhance our diversification agenda,” he said.
When asked how the GCGL was faring with the dwindling fortunes of the newspaper industry globally, which had been compounded by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, Mr Afful said GCGL was doing well.
He said business was pretty okay but could have been much better on the back of a number of initiatives based on the company's strategic plan, but the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic had made business to suffer.
He, however, said the company anticipated the challenges facing the print industry in general globally, even before the onset of COVID-19, which led to the steady migration towards digital, which, he said, had become an integral part of the company's business.
He said although the hard copies had reduced from half a million to a little over 150,000 a day over the years, the e-newspaper versions were gradually doing well.
Responding to whether newspapers were going to move totally onto digital platforms, he said not at all but was of the opinion that the usage would reduce drastically.
He said although globally demand for hard copies was going down, it was obvious it would never be phased out because no matter the digital evolution a section of the public and advertisers would prefer the hard copies and said it was imperative that all clients were satisfied.
“There are still some people who will never be inclined towards digital. Even the advertising market looks at the paper as a critical part of doing business.
“Even in the UK, the Daily Metro, which is a freely distributed paper, is one of the biggest. It is because it is an advertising funded newspaper. This is in spite of the fact that digital news platforms have better headway in the UK and other European Countries than here.
Mr Asmah reiterated the need for transparency in such a partnership and underscored the need to look critically at the issues surrounding sustainability of such partnerships.
The Chief Executive Officer of Techmaaxx International, Mr KVS Nathan, described a partnership with Aramex as critical to growing the Graphic Courier brand.