BIG INTERVIEW

MODERNIZING TOWARDS PROGRESS

A disrupter in the logistics and warehousing sector, Welspun One aims to become the most preferred warehousing company and to solve their customers’ location need. Having recently launched their maiden marquee project in Bhiwandi, the company is pegged to expand in the upcoming months with the announcements of future projects across the country.

The man behind the vision and success of Welspun One is here to enunciate how it stands out in the Industry making it a forerunner of the Warehousing Industry…

The man of the hour…
ANSHUL SINGHAL, Managing Director, Welspun One
Read on to know in depth…

Being one of the pioneers of warehousing industry, how has been your journey so far?
During my 15 years of leading organizations in the Infrastructure and Real Estate sector, I have had the opportunity of establishing five new businesses from the ground-up for three large corporates and have been responsible for major growth curves in all these companies. I have also held the CEO and Director positions for Blackstone, Warburg Pincus and Brookfield investee companies.

My entrepreneurial journey began with setting up One Industrial Space in July 2019 with an ambition to solve customers’ location needs and create long term value for all stakeholders.

In December 2019, the USD 2.7 BN Welspun Group – one of India’s fastest-growing multinationals with businesses in line pipes, home textiles, infrastructure, steel, advanced textiles, and flooring solutions forayed into the warehousing sector by acquiring a majority stake in One Industrial Space and the company was re-branded as Welspun One. As, the Managing Director of Welspun One Logistics Parks I have focused on building an in-house team to look after every critical component from site selection, sourcing, and due diligence to financing, construction, leasing, and exit in the midst of a global pandemic. The group is steadfast in its vision to pioneer innovative infrastructure, embracing best-in-class norms. Our recently announced flagship project in Bhiwandi will be a showcase for the same which was also launched during the lockdowns. Overall, I would say my journey has been humbling with its crests and challenges and I look forward to the next phase in the most dynamic and promising asset class in the present times.

As per the current scenario, warehousing industry seems to have a potential growth in the coming years, what is your take on the same?
The Warehousing and Logistics sector is slated to be one of the fastest and most strategic asset classes post the pandemic. Warehousing in India stands as an obvious beneficiary, thanks in part to rapid acceleration of e-commerce demands as well as the accelerated behavior shift of its commercial business ecosystem that has urgently pivoted to expand a footprint online. The rise in internet usage since the COVID-19 pandemic has also accelerated this change.

Going forward, companies will prefer Grade A facilities that offer compliance, human safety, hygiene, enable automation and social distancing, and adhere to global standards and industry best practices. E-commerce warehousing demand had been recording healthy growth in the last few years. Its share in warehousing demand increasing from 14% in FY18 to 23% in FY20. This collides with sector readiness of warehousing in India with GST, infrastructure status to warehousing, lower credit risk already in place. We at Welspun One estimate that this will lead to an additional Y-O-Y demand for Grade A facilities by 10% over the earlier predicted demand once things stabilize. Supply chains are going to get shorter, most demand to be fulfilled from regional or localized supply and city centers. Warehousing as a sector has been resilient during the pandemic and is likely to see further growth. The sector has seen investment volume growing, even before COVID-19 as big institutional investors had begun investing in warehousing assets globally as well as in India. It is estimated that the worth of the Indian logistics market will be around USD 215 billion in the next two years.

What strategic measures are taken by Welspun Logistics to be one step ahead of its competitors? How are you different from the rest?
Welspun One is the only platform to be backed by a global conglomerate- the 2.7 billion Welspun Group. The group not only has ties across the globe but is truly homegrown. This gives our platform the advantage of local nuances at a pan India level marking it as a differentiator from the other platforms in this sector. In a group that encompasses businesses in infrastructure, textile, line pipes and flooring solutions- We are focused real estates team with over multiple decades worth of cumulative experience that has the right mix of institutional finesse and a nuanced local approach to execute modern, IoT enabled, highly digitized, multi-storey Grade A warehousing spaces. Our core business offering is to customers with best-in-class real estate, solve location needs of customers and help them serve their customers better.

What are the key challenges faced by the Warehousing Industry in our country?
One of the main challenges faced by the warehousing industry is the high logistics cost which is currently at 14% of Gross Domestic product (GDP), though active measures are being taken by the government to reduce it to less than 10per cent.

Till a few years back, warehousing in India meant the typical four walled ‘godown’. We are gradually moving towards sophisticated Grade A warehouses. The biggest gap between India and the rest of the world is in the supply of compliant and modern/ Grade A warehousing. With large e-commerce players and 3PL companies, the demand for Grade A warehouses has seen significant growth. With the introduction of same-day delivery guarantees by many e-commerce companies, shrinking timelines owing to easy return policies, overall shorter supply chains and the rising popularity of daily online orders there can be seen a rising demand for in-city warehousing, multi-storey in-city warehousing thus in India is still at a nascent stage. The main challenge is finding suitable parcels at competitive price points that enable affordable rentals to our customers. However, I do believe that the right mix of policy initiatives for optimum FSI usage and competitive land prices could prove as winning formulas – especially in cities that are consumption hotbeds, such as Mumbai, New Delhi, and Bengaluru.

Warehousing as a sector has been resilient during the pandemic and is likely to see further growth. The sector has seen investment volume growing, even before COVID-19 as big institutional investors had begun investing in warehousing assets globally as well as in India. It is estimated that the worth of the Indian logistics market will be around USD 215 billion in the next two years.

What is Welspun One’s approach to the new normal?
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced and accelerated the need for state-of-the-art, compliant, hygienic Grade A warehouses in India. Our recently announced flagship 900-crore, 110-acre warehousing project in Bhiwandi, Maharashtra is India’s first logistics park that is equipped for COVID-19 and other such events that could affect park operations.

Covid-19 ready Tech coverage at the park includes contactless verification for entry/exit of people and vehicles, mandatory health declaration on an app, ultraviolet disinfection, and other automated safety and hygiene checks which are going to be the new normal.

How does Welspun Logistics plan to contribute to bring in a change in the Warehousing Sector in the coming 5 Years?
The Indian warehousing market has matured considerably over the last few years and we at Welspun One aim to be the most preferred warehousing company in the country, seeking to fulfill customer needs and their evolving logistic requirements. In addition to the traditional manufacturing customers- the field has expanded to large E-commerce players and 3PL companies. Most of these companies are large global players with specific requirements and standards.

Our approach thus is more partnership-driven, whereby we involve our clients extensively in the park designing process, understand their needs and help them increase the throughput We also aim to offer various tech-based solutions such as IoT based traffic/park management, tech-enabled smart infra management to customers, which will help create immediate as well as long term value for customers. With our parks, our vision for the next decade extends beyond developing square footage to creating jobs, adding to state revenues and sustaining overall growth. We recently announced our maiden project in Bhiwandi which has the potential to create 2700 multi-level job opportunities and help in improving the standard of living of the community within and beyond the park boundaries. We are looking at a pan India reach in the next few years with parks in cities like Delhi, Bengaluru, Pune and Kolkata, and even tier-II cities like Lucknow. Each of these parks will have a multiplier effect- enhancing the productivity, standard of living, and overall economic activity beyond the project boundaries to transform communities.