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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs     27 June  2016  

Myanmar’s Royal Express goes international

Royal Express, will be the first Myanmar domestic postal delivery brand to expand internationally once they open a branch in Thailand in July, followed by Singapore and Malaysia.

Until very recently, Myanmar Post and Telecommunication (MPT) had monopolized the postal service. September 2012, MPT announced privatization, ending six decades of state-monopoly. In 2015 the National League for Democracy published its election manifesto, which pronounced its intention to “revitalize the postal service – the foundation of communications across the country – in line with modern era, transforming it into a speedy and efficient service.”

Royal Express was established in 2002 in Botahtaung Township, mainly catering to businesses due to the state monopoly limiting extending service to individuals. Founder and Managing Director Min Min Oo had been working for Myanmar Times for two years when the inspiration to open Royal Express hit. Seeing the demand for a more efficient service than the notoriously unreliable state postal service, he decided to offer a solution.

He opened the second branch two years later. Currently there are 15 branches around Myanmar. “Our goal is to open one new branch every month,” says business developer of the company, Mr. Tin Kyaw Soe.

Royal Express aims to expand in geographical coverage and in scale of operation during the upcoming years. Major clients include City Mart, embassies, pharmaceutical holding TKSH, NGOs, and even branches of the government. Items it delivers include business letters, invitations, magazine and journals.

Upon opening the Thailand branch, it will also offer logistics and warehouse services to corporations, especially to the foreign investors expected to arrive in Myanmar in a huge influx as the government continues to encourage foreign direct investment.

One of the fastest growing projects by Royal Express is Royal Shop. An e-book vendor, Royal Shop has accumulated over 3,000 regular customers and a considerable social media following of 10,000 likes on its Facebook page, said Mr. Tin Kyaw Soe.

The opening of Myanmar’s ports and bandwidth equates to a whole new frontier to expand its business for Royal Express. Meanwhile, a string of similar postal services have emerged with market liberalization. Three other companies have obtained license from MPT: Speedy Business Services (SBS Delivery), Magnate Group Logistics (MGL Express) and United Courier Services (UCL).

The priority amid increased competition is “to continue to provide consistent and convenient services to clients,” Managing Director Min Min Oo said. He added that the 150 staff receive in-house training and attend external management and financial knowledge workshops to be better equipped.

While focus on human resources can make the company more competitive, lack of a national policy cannot be addressed internally. Myanmar is yet to have an organized, standardized postal code system or a clear import and export regulations.

“Current postal code is outdated and not specific enough,” said Mr. Tin Kyaw Soe. “If you use the postal code from internet search and follow its direction, I am sure you will get lost.” Therefore, Royal Express relies on the human knowledge of each delivery personnel. Staff are designated a specific area of operation based on their knowledge of the nooks and crannies of the streets.  He is hopeful, however, of the progresses to be made by Myanmar Post, who has been collaborating with Japan Post Co. since May 2015 for improvement.

The domestic postal system will undoubtedly benefit from postal codes, as will international logistics operations from formulated customs procedures. Average delivery time for international goods is seven days abroad, but the timeline is delayed in Myanmar due to the lag at customs, said Mr. Tin Kyaw Soe.

The development of transport in Myanmar will promote the quality of life, and will help a company such as Royal Express.

Business advisor to Royal Express Mr. Shanmuga Retnam describes the future growth of Myanmar economy as “exponential” and he hopes the company will see healthy growth.

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