And that, too, is an acknowledgement of our achievements - nobody notices when everything works smoothly.
In an exclusive interview with Fibre2Fashion correspondent Mary Christine Joy, Mr. Tomas Sonntag talks about the fashion and textile logistics industry in Asia and in general.
Logwin Logistics is a renowned name in the field of textile and fashion logistics and Mr. Sonntag is associated with this company since more than four years. His vast knowledge in this field brought immense success to Logwin AG.
Can you give us a brief of your professional journey so far? Did you have to go through a lot of pain to obtain the position of a Managing Director in your current company?
"Hard work might be a better word than pain. Sure, there was pain in the process but if you love what you're doing, you brush the pain away rather quickly and see it all as part of the learning experience. I've started my freight forwarding career in 1977 with an apprenticeship in a small German trucking company, thereafter moved quickly to the international side and worked myself up the ladder from air and sea operations to sales and management, 7 years in Germany, 8 years in the U.S. and by now over 20 years in Asia, Taipei, Hong Kong, Singapore and back to Hong Kong. In all these years, I've been blessed to have worked for good companies and I truly believe that I've been very lucky to have worked for good people and mentors, who prepared me well moving up the ladder to country and regional management.
How important do you suppose is logistics in the world of fashion and textile? Do you think logistics is getting its just recognition in the global fashion and textile industry?
If I were to answer that logistics provides the very basis for the fashion and textile industry it would only be a slight exaggeration. Globalization has made supply chains ever longer and more complex. In future, it will remain a rare event when fashion articles and textiles are designed, produced and developed in the same place. Logistics will therefore continue to be indispensable.
I am convinced that the fashion industry is aware of its significance. Our customers pay great attention to who meets their needs and specialises in fashion logistics. Consumers are generally not aware of the logistics behind the product. And that, too, is an acknowledgement of our achievements – nobody notices when everything works smoothly.
Out of the four modes of transport in the logistics industry (rail, road, ship, and air), what would you advise to the fashion and textile industry?
A recommendation for a specific means of transport of course very much depends on the geographical locations of production facilities and demand, which is very difficult to predict. Our general approach is to transport most of a collection produced outside Europe by sea freight. If extra articles need to be produced as a result of strong demand, the means of transport must be fast, meaning that air freight becomes the only solution. In both cases we offer end-to-end garments-on-hanger transportation from Asia to Europe. This enables new outfits to reach the stores crease-free and ready-for-sales despite their long journey. If predictions about production being moved back and more work being performed in Europe prove true, we would rely on truck transportation to a greater extent.
What is the stand of Logwin Logistics in terms of sustainability and eco friendliness? Do you rate your services as sustainable? Please elaborate.
We avoid empty runs and save duplicate journeys. We are gradually switching our truck fleet to more environmentally friendly vehicles for land transport in Europe. With packaging we always consider very carefully whether non-returnable or reusable packaging is the better option. The environmentally friendly solution is also often the more economical one.
Why do you think small and medium fashion and textile enterprises should come to you for logistics? What is special about Logwin Logistics for them?
It is quite simple. These customers should come to us because we know and understand their industry. We love fashion and lifestyle – just like our customers. We combine experience, expertise and service to form a very flexible and equally reliable offering.
Thanks to our long presence in Asia, of which we are quite rightly very proud, we know the peculiarities of the infrastructure and production facilities. We understand the markets and can recognize trends early on. A current example is the very special solution that we developed for our customers in the fashion and lifestyle industry in 2012. Under the name of Red Carpet Logistics we combine fashion + lifestyle shipments from, to and within Asia with specialist warehousing solutions.
How important do you think is timeliness in the fashion and textile logistics industry? Has Logwin Logistics been successful in making a reputation as a timely service provider in this industry?
Timeliness is important not just in the fashion and textile industry. You are unlikely to find any company that is not dependent on it. Logwin enjoys a particularly good name because we always provide prompt information on these unforeseen circumstances in such good time that we or our customers can almost always find a good workaround. Our globally standardized IT system providing complete and seamless information on the supply chain in all locations and at all times and direct and personal communication helps us in this.
How do you see the Asian market in terms of fashion and textile logistics? Do you think that fashion and textile logistics service providers in general have a huge scope in Asia?
Asia will continue to remain important for the industry, however with different prospects. China, for example, has played a significant role as a consumer of luxury goods and fashion labels for some time now, and its importance as a place of cheap production is diminishing. Rising purchasing power in Asia is resulting in an increasing demand for logistics, with large growth in transport within Asia and a relocation of industry – away from the coastal regions of China to the interior or to other countries such as Taiwan, Bangladesh or even India. The flows of goods are therefore shifting and it remains to be seen if strong growth will continue.
What is the one thing that you would like to change in Logwin Logistics? Why?
There is no "one thing" that I would like to change. All in all I would like us, as a company operating around the world, to strengthen the interpersonal contacts among our employees and to create the atmosphere of closeness and trust that we have built up within individual national organizations.
What is the one thing that you would like to change in the global fashion and textile logistics industry? Why?
Please do not get me wrong, but it would be presumptuous of me to want to change something there. Logistics is a service that at best represents what the customer wants. Customer wishes have their own dynamic, and if they do things in a similar way over a certain period certain patterns emerge which make everything more predictable and calculable for us. Of course, it is more pleasant to work with foresight than to be suddenly confronted with a new challenge. On the other hand, it is part of our competence to provide a flexible response to current needs.
Published on: 29/01/2013
DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.