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Saturday October 1st, 2022

EFL Global – Expansion, People, and the Planet

Imalka Upendra, Chief Executive Officer, EFL Global – Sri Lanka

EFL Global, the supply chain and logistics business of listed Expolanka Holdings, is taking the country’s unfolding economic challenges in its stride and continuing on an impressive trajectory of growth.

Since its inception, EFL Global has mastered the art of finding customer-centric solutions to move goods on time across borders and challenging terrains. With an ethos of doing good in the world, EFL Global continues to invest considerable resources to build digital capabilities and improve employee well-being to drive better results – for global trade partners, business growth, communities, and the environment.

With a new CEO at the helm of its Sri Lankan operations, EFL Global is gearing up for its next phase of growth undeterred by the economic chaos and operational challenges facing the country’s business landscape today.

Imalka Upendra, EFL Global – Sri Lanka’s newly appointed Chief Executive Officer, brings close to two decades of experience in commercial and logistics operations at MAS Active Trading, a company known for its dynamism and innovation-led approach to business both locally and globally. Passionate about making a difference, embracing change and driving growth, Imalka is all set to lead EFL Global – Sri Lanka into a new journey of growth, and in this interview, he tells us how.

What challenges confront EFL Global in the wake of a prolonged global pandemic and domestic economic challenges, and how has EFL Global responded to these?

EFL Global is a company that thrives in challenging environments anywhere in the world. As such, we are taking the unfolding challenges in our stride.

EFL Global, formerly Expolanka Freight, the core business of the listed Expolanka Holdings Group, began its journey in 1982 with a 300 sq. ft. office in Colombo. Forty years on, EFL Global is a formidable supply chain and logistics services company with 70+ offices in 34 countries and over 3,000+ highly motivated employees moving the wheels of trade across the Indian Subcontinent, Europe, the Americas, and beyond. EFL Global is not just a freight forwarding company. We also offer a range of comprehensive supply chain solutions, including high-calibre 3PL services, global free-port services, warehousing, and cold-chain solutions. EFL Global has invested considerable resources in technology to drive significant value to our customers, enabling us to be a global company that contributes to social and environmental good wherever we operate.

Sri Lanka’s unfolding crisis has been a challenge to our domestic operations. However, as a company that thrives under challenging conditions, EFL Global has successfully navigated its business through these tough times to provide its clients with uninterrupted service. Large yet nimble, EFL Global was quick to put in place systems and processes that ensured business continuity, upholding our customer interest at all times.

Our global customer and operations teams are ready to solve any problem our clientele may have, from containing margins and cost pressures peculiar, to fast-fashion brands, to opening trade routes across challenging borders and terrain.

In 2021 alone, we executed one thousand and seven charter programs, enabling timely delivery of consignments amidst the logistics crunch due to COVID-19. When some global ports were congested, we provided faster re-routing solutions for our clients and helped them avoid costly delays.

In the recently concluded 2021/22 financial year, we set up new offices and facilities in North and Central America, and also expanded our footprint in the Asian region with the setting up of a new facility in the Philippines. Our expansion plans extended to the USA with two new offices: one in Georgia and another in the vicinity of one of the busiest ports in the world, Houston, Texas. We also acquired two Americas-based companies, including a stake in IDEA Logistics LLC, a Latin America based company with fully-fledged services across air freight, ocean freight, trucking, and warehousing, with operations across the region.

What are the ingredients for building a culture of resilience?

We like to see ourselves as a digital-led global logistics brand. However, fundamentally, EFL Global is a people-first business that invests considerable resources to ensure we have the right people across our global network in various roles and capacities, and to give them the tools to thrive and grow in their careers with us.

Another priority for EFL Global is employee well-being because our employees are the driving force of the business. They have created EFL Global’s reputation for operating in challenging markets and elevation as a top-of-the-mind, reliable global brand.

Our people are integral to building and sustaining relationships that have helped EFL Global through challenging times. During the pandemic, we leveraged these collaborative and long-term relationships with air freight carriers to give our customers uninterrupted services. We deployed data-driven solutions to efficiently secure capacity and optimize our procurement costs in challenging conditions. In the ocean freight segment, amidst the prevailing capacity shortages and higher rates, EFL Global tapped into its long-term carrier partnerships, supported by proactive procurement strategies, to give customers better solutions, and as a result maintain its growth amidst all the country’s challenges.

As EFL Global continues to grow its global footprint, how important is sustainability?

Our mission for sustainability is all about doing good to the world and is ingrained deep within our DNA. We aim to become the leading organization within the global logistics industry committed to sustainable development. EFL Global is doing this by investing in technology across all our business activities to reduce environmental impact through various international partnerships and certifications and create economic and social gains that can transform lives. For example, in Sri Lanka, we assumed the responsibility for replanting, restoring, and conserving 600 acres in the Bundala Forest Reserve, working together with local communities.

Globally, EFL Global is committed to the Science-Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) and has clear targets to reduce emissions across our global freight forwarding network.

Under our Founder & President’s personal purview, our organization founded Global Goodness. Our aim through Global Goodness is to create impactful change in the world and to encourage employees to participate and drive causes that they are passionate about. Global Goodness is not only about being sustainable; it is our expression of giving back to the environment, communities, people, and causes that make a difference.