As some businesses reel from the effects of the novel coronavirus pandemic, others are reporting steady growth. Managing director of Aklamar Courier Marlon Fletcher gave his account of how his business has performed since the start of the pandemic.
“Business has been great for me, I would not say that it has doubled, but it has surely maintained what I use to do pre-pandemic.”
About 99 per cent of Aklamar’s business has to do with dealing with offices and performing tasks like picking up cheques and going to the bank or tax office. In fact, most of the company’s customers are on a retainer, so they pay a flat rate.
But, as the managing director explains, the pandemic has created demand in other areas which have been financially rewarding. “I see the increase coming from individual deliveries,” said Fletcher. He said it’s been a steady 40 per cent increase, primarily due to demand in the food delivery business.
Before the pandemic Aklamar was described, primarily, as a documentation courier company, but all that is beginning to change. “What I’m seeing, from my side, is that a lot of people are now staying home, so you find that the demand for personal courier service has increased significantly. We’re doing a lot of home visits now and we used to do probably two home visits per day pre-pandemic, during the pandemic we have been doing 10 to 20 home pickups and deliveries per day.”
Aklamar Courier is not the only entity experiencing good fortune in the middle of the pandemic. Just last month Knutsford Express Services announced the introduction of business class service and the addition of international package delivery. The new business lines were added since the start of the new financial year.
CEO of Knutsford Express, Oliver Townsend, said since the onset of the novel coronavirus pandemic the company has pivoted to expand courier services. He explained that package volumes climbed nearly 200 per cent since March 2021, contributing significantly to earnings. Similarly, Mailpac Group, which provides international and domestic courier services for people ordering goods from various businesses, including Amazon and PriceSmart, has experienced a surge in growth. This, as more consumers choose e-commerce to source products for their everyday needs.
Despite seeing its cost of sales jump by 35 per cent in the first quarter, Mailpac spent $22 million in capital expenditure and leased new properties to allow the company to sufficiently manage the increased business activity. In the same vein, Fletcher highlighted that the Aklamar team expanded by about 10 to 15 per cent of its delivery personnel, “I’ve also added an additional dispatcher to field the calls and messages that are coming in on a daily basis.”
But there’s even more growth on the horizon. Fletcher explained that Aklamar is in the final stages of negotiating a new contract with about three companies which will make out of town courier services more lucrative for his business. Currently, he only operates in the Kingston, Portmore, and Spanish Town area.
“Other courier companies, namely Tara and Knutsford Express, have dominated the out of town market by way of literally transporting people. So they just put courier service into the bottom of the bus and they are able to charge a significantly reduced rate for a delivery from let’s say Kingston to Montego Bay. We did not venture into out of town deliveries on a one-on-one basis because the demand was just not there and I would be operating at a loss to go to Montego Bay, for example, with two or three deliveries,” he explained.
Although business is doing well, Fletcher admitted that there are a few challenges. “From time to time we get a little resistance because I guess the officer on the ground may not be familiar with the gazetted order that is published every time the prime minister would have announced new measures. It’s part and parcel of the stigma that surrounds bikers overall. But all my staff have their IDs, letters, and the bikes are company bikes, which are branded, fully licensed, and insured.”
In the meantime, the courier service provider said he has ventured into contactless deliveries to facilitate people who are afflicted with COVID-19. He says it’s the latest pivot which has already started to pay dividends.