The Voice spoke with SJakaria Jalal, General Manager (Strategic Planning & Expansion), Bashundhara LP Gas LtdP.
Jakaria Jalal: Bashundhara LP Gas Ltd (BLPGL) first private sector investment on LPG in Bangladesh 20 years back, one of the visionary and Iconic sucessfull enterprenour of Bangladedsh Mr. Ahmed Akbar Sobhan, Honorable Chairman of Basundhara Group has laid the foundation of this business. Till then it never looked back. It floursihes his business as the days progress, since 2013-14 when this business started to ride on exponential growth line and lots of investors hit to the market. BLPGL continued its leading market share. BLPGL invested lot in LPG sector for last five years in Bangaldesh. This Business unit has rocketed in sales volume for last few years under briilaint Leadership of Honorable Vice Chairman of Bashundhara Group Mr. Shafiat Sobhan. Setting up largest Cylinder manufactuing plant in country, building up the biggest cylinder refill unit, along with largest LPG logistics capactiy as: LPG New Terminals with Maximum Land based LPG storage and Satellites stations, Cylinder Carrying truck, Road Tankers, LPG vessels made BLPGL second to none in this competitive indusrty. BLPGL have recently gained Best LPG Brand Awards in Bangladesh and Super Brands Award from international accolades due to its relentless effort, rigid commitment and positive intention to serve customer requirement at its level best always. Customer is constantly top priority for any situation and their satisfaction is BLPGL ultimate desired goal.
The Voice: Could you tell us a little about your career path to get to get you here?
Jakaria Jalal: Graduating in Chemical Engineering from BUET back in 2006, started my career as production engineer in local chemicals factory, late 2008 got chance to switch the career to Sales and Marketing division in world Largest Industrial gases company Linde Bangladesh Ltd. Back in 2013 moves into LPG industry when it’s just starting to flourish in Bangladesh, at Petredec Bangladesh worked as Sales Head for two years, meanwhile completed MBA in marketing from IBA, DU. Moved to BLPGL as DGM, Business, Operations Now working as General Manager, Strategic Planning & Expansion department and additionally looking after the Industrial, Bulk and Autogas Sales division of BLPGL. Apart from this academic degree, have few professional degrees on Leadership, Strategy from MIT Sloan School of Management, USA; IIM, Ahmedabad, India and Diploma on Global Governance from IBMI, Japan. Recently appointed as Global Ambassador from Global Young Leaders Academy as IYLA Graduate in United Nations, Head Quarters.
The Voice: What do you see as the key challenges today of Doing LPG Business in Bangladesh?
Jakaria Jalal: LPG business is not like as and FMCG business or any food and beverages like one-time business, this business is all about close relationship with the customer, distributor, retailer and importers. This full links managed by cylinders which carry the LPG from importer to customer, without of it no one can think of doing business. Managing cylinder supply chain which is quite bit heavy in weight and price as well is the key to strengthen the company to do the business smoothly. Another significant aspect of LPG business success is the logistics capacity and which is also require investment, most of the case there is a misconception once anyone invested in terminal or filling station it is done like other business, but here are the main challenges remain for the investor to invest continues in cylinder and logistics management. These all push entrepreneur in real challenging position to shape up the venture always with reinvestment else market share will be deterred continuously which is alarming for any companies. Yet, again another biggest challenge remains in distribution channel which is heavily lacking of awareness of doing good faith business among distributor and company, lack of safety culture to adopt by the distributor and retailer is also an obstacle to grow the business in sustainable mood. Malpractices from ill minded businessman, traditional bureaucratic delaying from different govt bodies to get approval or even involvement of different government bodies to control the business are throwing this industry to a tough position to roll into smoothly. One of the utmost issue that still unresolved for Bangladesh LPG industry to grow is not looking after by Government. As we all know bulk amount of investor has built up their capacity in Mongla where they cannot bring big vessel, hence two big problem arise: price of LPG will be always high as the number small pressurized vessel around the world is limited so the time chartering cost in the end premium cost taken by the trader going up and the volume that we are targeting for next 7/8 years will be tough to manage with only 2-3K MT vessel to supply. Government should emphasize to dredge the channel continuously as a part of accumulated demand of investors. This is coming as greatest concern for the industry as we can foresee.
The Voice: And what about the main opportunities or growths that entrepreneurs of Bangladesh LPG Industries players can foresee?
Jakaria Jalal: Let us draw the total demand could be from this Bangladesh market. Considering, 20 percent people will be remaining under certain level of income capacity those who will not be able to handle the LPG price, considering the LNG and new exploration of NG will add the supply to the industrial segment and until or unless Natural gas domestic price go substantial amount beyond LPG price considering the user friendliness of NG. It is easily calculative that the demand can reach to at best 2.5 Million MT per year by 2025 in Bangladesh i.e. by next seven years current demand will reach up to three times of it. Let us now, draw the supply curve of LPG for upcoming years with existing 12 importers and five or six will come by next 10 to 12 months. It is needless to mention the investment of new player and reinvestment of old investor will be able to supplying more than that we are estimating for next 7/8 years. It is well understood that with the effort of private entrepreneurs and good wish from government policy end makers, these industries are now going to fit fully to serve the demand. In some cases, I am afraid by next years there will be persisting game will be starting for the new investors those who have capitalized for next five years to get back their speculation. There is a one certain reason for that subsistence game: demand will not go up like rocketing happened in past five years rather it would be an organic one or few more of it, else it is quite easy to predict that few stockholders those who are trying to penetrate to the market by next years will see the immense rivalry to continue. But if they can endure their survival effort for three to four years then certainly it will take them in a position to withstand their position.
The Voice: What benefits do you see as being a member of the WLPGA?
Jakaria Jalal: It is to be noted that BLPGL is one of the first LPG company from Bangladesh to get WLPGA membership, sensing the importance to connect among all other international LPG stakeholders in one single platform is simply outstanding. It is a matter of great pride for me personally to represent BLPGL in WLPGA platform since joining. Being a member of such prolific platform, we are being privileged to get any industry update within shortest possible time. Networking with other member within a minute through members intranet around the globe, Global LPG Statistics, LPG related international standard Publications, special projects for members along with access to other international institution related with LPG made easy. Apart, exchange of view and gathering knowledge, technical expert advises anything we can think of it are easily accessible as members of WLPGA. Looking forward to have more members on this platform around the globe in coming days.