Ivan Milićević, Manager Of Logistics Business Development At Nelt Group:

Integrity Leads To Success

Nelt Group has been a leader in distribution and logistics on all markets where it operates for a quarter of a century. The group’s success relies on knowhow, experience, high-quality personnel and the innovation that it has shown from the start in all segments of operations. Nelt has big plans for the next five years.

The specialization and differentiation of logistics services, maintaining operational excellence and understanding customer needs, is the way to develop all segments of business, including logistics. This is also the basis of our strategy for growth and performance on markets.

You are among the few Serbian companies to record constant growth on the domestic and international markets for the last quarter of a century. What were the key moments during the past 25 years?

During its 25 years of doing business, Nelt has built pathways to success – through knowhow, work and acquired experience. In a history dating back a quarter of a century, which testifies to the focus, effort and commitment of a large number of people, there have been many key moments. Just as in the life of an individual person, in the life of the company the key moments are the forging of strong partnerships that change and form us. Viewed from this perspective, the beginning of the partnership with Procter & Gamble, way back in 1996, had a major influence on us. However, the start of cooperation with Kraft Foods, now Mondelez, in 2000, and Wrigley in 2001, were no less significant. Equally important is the establishing of partnerships with SSL companies, Dr. Oetker and Philip Morris International, while from the recent past we are particularly proud of the partnerships established with global logistics giants – COSCO from China, CMA CMG from France and DACHSER from Germany.
We are continuing our shared journey, setting new expectations and remaining open to new experiences.

Many would be envious of the list of clients with which you cooperate. What are the basic postulates that form the basis of your cooperation with the world’s largest companies?

Integrity is the keyword, and along with that we are also consistent in our stance that we must always handle our work in the best possible way at any given moment. The values that led us to the position we currently occupy are clearly articulated. Those are care for people, a winning mentality, innovation, a long-term perspective and personal responsibility. We are focused on each other and are fully aware of personal responsibility; we recognise and believe in the strength of all of us at Nelt, but also in the strength of our partners. We know that we are as strong together as each of us is individually in the chain. These are universal values that, thankfully for us, people recognise.

The values that led us to the position we currently occupy are clearly articulated. Those are care for people, a winning mentality, innovation, a long-term perspective and personal responsibility

 

You stated recently that key development factors are, among others, digitisation and automation in the scope of business processes and warehousing. To what extent does your business rely on technological innovation?

I mentioned one of the values that have been incorporated into our business code since the very creation of Nelt as being innovation – and digitisation and automation are expressions of innovation that are brought about by the spirit of our times.
In previous years we introduced the SAP ERP system to all the markets of the Balkans where we operate, digitised the management of warehousing processes by introducing the Warehouse Managment System GOLD, and pioneered implementation of Pick by Voice technology. In the process of delivery of goods, we have relied successfully on dynamic routing for years. Our IT sector has formed a permanent team of internal SAP experts, who cooperate regularly with external teams of experts. We no longer view improvements as innovations, but rather as part of regular daily operations.

Given that you have expanded your business significantly in geographical terms, how do you harmonise the varying technological standards that you come across in, say, Africa and Europe?

– Sustainable operations and focus are key to our approach, which also implies a high degree of adaptation to the complexities brought by different markets. Our efforts are certainly focused on transferring good practises, which we have adopted on all markets, but experience tells us that merely copying solutions usually doesn’t lead to the desired result. This is where innovation appears, and in order to be innovative you must have focus. In that spirit, a special business unit for Africa has been formed within Nelt.

All spheres of our lives are immersed in technological innovations which, provided an adequate approach exists, make our lives easier. Without a focus on these processes, today’s logistics are not possible

You have announced investments of €15 million in 2018 for the development of new services and the expansion of warehouses, office space and your fleet. How interested is the state in using budget resources to support successful Serbian companies like Nelt, which employs more than 3,000 workers?

Nelt is part of this society, while it operates on two continents and eight markets. We strive to be a very active partner of the state wherever we are present. Although we rely primarily on our own resources in our growth, which is to some extent our operational ID card, we certainly have expectations in terms of support and partnership with the state.
Apart from that, Nelt also participates actively in the work of the National Alliance for Local Economic Development, NALED, and is one of the founders of this alliance’s Fair Competition Alliance.

To what extent does the tense political situation in the Balkans hinder the development of economic cooperation in the region?

Knowing the times in which we live is essential to sustainability, because there are many global and regional challenges. On the other hand, nobody is immune to events that, it seems to us, we cannot influence. We believe that these are challenges that we are overcoming successfully.
I will return to the personal responsibility of each of us. As a company that employs people in the region, we exert every effort on a daily basis to impact affirmatively on the atmosphere, to support regional initiatives that should carry us forward. One of these is the recently formed Western Balkan Transport Association, of which we have high expectations.

Nelt has long since outgrown regional frameworks of doing business. What are your plans for the next five years?

The growth we have so far achieved has served to highlight the challenges arising from internal and external complexity, and this has also impacted on the clear defining of further directions of development. Within the Nelt Group we have formed distribution, logistics and Africa business units. Focus is the most important factor of success, and also forms the basis for nurturing an organisation that is motivated, efficient and effective.
Our priorities, alongside achieving sales and operational goals, are the expansion of logistics capacities, such as the construction of new warehouses in Belgrade and Sarajevo, the improvement of technology at the Intermodal Railway Terminal in Dobanovci, and the strengthening of logistics teams at our companies in Macedonia, Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

We are also preparing to enter a new market in the neighbourhood.