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Blue Dart to invest $3m on southern expansion

News Clip : The Economic Times,Chennai.

03rd July, 2003.

Blue Dart Express, an integrated air express, courier and logistics company, plans to invest about $3 million this year towards expansion in the south. Recently, it also acquired an aircraft for $5 million, expanding its fleet to four Boeing 737 freighters aircrafts.

Ms Tulsi Mirchandaney, senior vice-president (Marketing and Projects), said south India accounted for 30% of Blue Dart's topline and also acted as the hub for its aviation operations. Strengthening aviation fleet would help in expanding operations to other south Asian companies later, she said Blue Dart's revenue was Rs 315 crore in 2002-03.

Mr.Gopa Kumar, VP(south), said the expansion plans included adding 12 offices and 7 regional service partners. As such it has 49 offices, 21 regional service partners and 55 franchisees in the south. In the country, it operates from 168 offices, 166 regional partners, 234 franchisees, 64 delivery associates and serves 13,600 locations, he said.

The expansion would be into the emerging southern business centres such as Vellore, Cuddalore, Nellore, Trichur, Rajamundri, Warangal, Devangiri, Bellary, Sivakasi, Tirunelveli and Kottayam.

Ms Mirchandaney said the company had a 38-40% share express courier market. The total market size is estimated to be Rs 2,500 crore, divided equally between organised and unorganised sectors.

The company increased its internal share of domestic revenues from 45% in the early 1990s to 80% at present.

The company's focus would continue to be on the domestic sector.However, it is also looking at emerging as a major south Asian regional player, from being a national player at present. "To begin with, we plan to focus on Srilanka. We would also look at other south Asian countries such as Bangladesh, "she said, adding that it would take some time before the final decisions are taken.

Global airlines downturn saves co $1.5 million Downturn in the global airlines industry saved Blue Dart close to $1.5 million in the recent purchase of its fourth Boeing 737. The company is spending about $5 million on the acquisition and conversion of the aircraft.

Mr Niteen Gupte, COO Blue Dart Aviation, a 100% susbidary, which takes care of running Blue Dart fleet, said the downturn in the airline industry World-Wide made the acquisition cheaper. "It might have costed us close to $6.5 million in better times, "he said. The company had purchased the aircraft from China-based Xiamen Airlines.

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