Global Business Guide Indonesia

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Joint Ventures | Investment
Blue Bird Group Holding | Ms Noni Purnomo
Ms Noni Purnomo

One of the important factors in encouraging growth and development at the city-level is the implementation of effective transportation systems. As such, over the last few years we have been invited by local governments to open taxi and limousine services in locations across the archipelago.

Ms Noni Purnomo, President Director

Blue Bird Group Holding is an integrated service provider engaged in the passenger transportation industry. What more can you tell us about the history of your group and its main strategies going forward?

Blue Bird Group Holding is the holding company for PT. Blue Bird Tbk, which in late 2014 carried out a successful IPO and listed on the IDX. PT. Blue Bird Tbk currently has three divisions under its operations - regular taxi services, limousine and car rental services, and chartered buses – and is thereby focused on providing passenger land transportation services. The company has a fleet of more than 30,000 vehicles for these three divisions and employs 36,000 drivers. Our operations are also supported by a further 6,000 employees including mechanics who work in our 24-hour maintenance and service centre.

Our presence in Indonesia spans 17 cities and we plan to expand domestically in line with the country’s widespread growth potential. Moreover, decentralization in Indonesia means that cities must compete against one another to achieve growth. One of the important factors in encouraging growth and development at the city-level is the implementation of effective transportation systems. As such, over the last few years we have been invited by local governments to open taxi and limousine services in locations across the archipelago.

Many companies in Indonesia see immense potential in the country’s eastern provinces. Which cities in particular do you see the most potential in for your expansion?

Our target market is the middle-upper income segment and given this context, we have prioritised business cities in Indonesia as well as second-tier cities. Our criteria when it comes to identifying a target market for our future expansion is that it must have a strong growth rate and a population of more than 1 million people. One of the easiest ways to spot cities suited to our services is the presence of four-star hotels.

We have added five cities to our local network over the last three years, and hope to add another three this year [2015]. Our company also has plans to expand beyond Indonesia by 2018, and we are currently developing a strategy to enter other ASEAN markets.

What is your outlook for the development of Indonesia’s taxi service industry for the medium-term?

We are still very optimistic and the main reason for this is that Indonesia’s infrastructure for public transport remains underdeveloped. Furthermore, the taxi penetration rate is still only 1.4 per 1000 people – a figure that trails substantially behind that of Singapore at 5.2 per 1000 people. This shows that we still have many opportunities in Indonesia. For example, the Greater Jakarta area, which has the highest taxi penetration rate in the country, is not saturated yet and during certain times of the day it can be very difficult to get a taxi. Outside of Jakarta, the lack of taxis poses an even greater challenge.

The global taxi industry has in recent years had to contend with the rise of companies such as Uber. What are your thoughts on the potential impact of this type of ‘disruptive’ business going forward?

Uber has been successful in a number of countries, but one of the main reasons for this is that these particular countries did not already have a trusted taxi service provider well-known for its reliability. Uber also tends to thrive in cities where the government plays an active role in ensuring the safety of passengers. In Indonesia, the responsibility of safety falls almost entirely on the taxi service provider; in that we are the ones who carry out the extensive background checks during driver recruitment and there is no government agency to serve as a safety net.

People here thus rely heavily on the reputation of the taxi company and its drivers, and may therefore be reluctant to use crowd-sourced drivers. This is a challenge that companies such as Uber would face in Indonesia. In addition to this, taxi fares here are still very cheap compared to the more mature markets that Uber typically operates in.

With all this said, companies like Uber demonstrate the importance of innovation and new technology. In 2011, we launched a mobile taxi reservation application and were the first in the world to make this kind of technology compatible with Blackberry devices. We see the emergence of new competitors as an opportunity to learn and discover new ways to improve upon our own passenger transportation services.

Indonesian consumers are becoming increasingly demanding in line with rising purchasing power and a growing middle class. How does Blue Bird Group Holding intend to adapt to this trend?

Our company makes it a priority to understand what customers need. This means that we go to great lengths to ensure passenger safety, comfort and convenience. Through the introduction of the Blue Bird mobile application, we recently made significant strides in improving upon customer convenience. On top of this, we have an exclusive agreement with more than 500 outlets such as malls and office buildings to provide superior accessibility. Two years ago, we engaged with a convenience store chain to enable our customers to order and wait for taxis in the comfort of the store as opposed to on the street. We are always looking for new ways to provide greater convenience and accessibility, and also plan to adapt to the market’s move away from cash payments. Our luxury Silver Bird taxis are already able to accept payment via credit and debit cards.

At the group level, what can you tell us about future plans to pursue further diversification into different areas of business?

At this moment, our core business is in passenger land transportation overseen by PT. Blue Bird Tbk. My task going forward is to build another core business for the group and our focus is on growing our logistics services. The growth of Indonesia’s economy brings about a greater need for reliable and efficient logistics to support local businesses. Our previous experience in passenger transportation means that we are ideally positioned to establish ourselves as a prominent logistics service provider.

How is your group positioned towards working with international investors and companies looking for an experienced local partner in Indonesia?

We currently have a few joint ventures with international companies and in the future, our company plans to be more open to this type of collaboration. As a local company, we understand the culture in Indonesia and have expertise when it comes to working with local human resources. However, we also realize that we would benefit from the involvement of an overseas partner to gain technical expertise in fields such as integrated logistics and warehouse management. We would therefore like to invite investors to come, not just to put in money but also to have long-term synergies with us in Indonesia.

As a final message, what would you like our readers to remember about Indonesia?

Indonesia offers a lot of opportunities with a growing population of 247 million people – most of which are young and of a productive age. Now is the time for investors with a long-term vision to enter the market, because there is still so much to be done.  

Global Business Guide Indonesia - 2015

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