In his five years living in the country, Marc Guyonnaud has never faced a situation like this. The head of AGS Myanmar and his teams had to deal with the covid pandemic in 2020 and, since February 2021, with a local climate marked by significant tension and violence. In these circumstances, the teams have managed to continue their activity in the face of multiple demands.
AGS clients, like Joris Thomas, Operations Director at Bouygues Bâtiment International will not disagree. He spoke with us to explain why he chose AGS to organise the relocation of 14 employees who were forced to leave the country due to the chaotic situation that worried investors. “They decided to freeze their projects in Myanmar for a few months,” explains Joris Thomas. “The investment freeze and the deterioration of security have had a direct impact on our business.” At the end of the day, this means that the return of employees must be well orchestrated and swift.
Remote management during troubled times
For Joris Thomas, as for other clients, AGS Myanmar demonstrates “a genuine ability to manage several international moves simultaneously with utmost professionalism” and benefits from “an international footprint that makes the difference, especially for moves to unusual destinations.”
AGS has worked tirelessly to meet the demands of clients like Bouygues. During the first lockdown in April 2020, AGS continued operations, shipping record volumes due to the number of expatriates fleeing Myanmar. “Most of them left thinking they would come back, but given the nature of the pandemic and border closures, they quickly decided to organise their move from a distance and never came back,” says Marc Guyonnaud.
Constantly adapting to accompany and support clients
The teams had to adapt and switched to organising virtual visits using the group’s software. “Once the packing was completed, we had to send photos to the customers to prove what had been done,” recalls the AGS boss. This situation continued throughout the year, despite successive lockdowns. The results were very good, better than in previous years. In contrast, Marc Guyonnaud recorded few incoming moves.
The situation became more difficult on February 1, 2021, due to local events. After a few days of uncertainty, work resumed on February 6, albeit under unusual conditions. On that date, the civil disobedience movement (CDM) was launched to urge workers to stop working to express their dissatisfaction. Local employees found it challenging to work or even travel to their workplaces because of the numerous street demonstrations and barricaded bridges. “It became dangerous to come to work for the locals,” says Marc Guyonnaud. Employees no longer wore their uniforms for fear of reprisals.
A daily challenge: from reduced activity to a strong recovery
Another major difficulty for AGS was that customs only reopened on April 27, making it impossible to export shipments before then. “We did three months of non-stop packing,” says Marc Guyonnaud. “People continued to flee the country, but their belongings were stored until they could be shipped.” In response, the AGS branch manager used additional warehouses to increase storage capacity. “By the end of April, it was time to start exporting again, because we were at our maximum storage capacity,” he says.
The cumulated shipment delays meant that AGS had to ship some 20 containers in May alone (as opposed to the usual 3 or 4) for customers who had left several months earlier. “Exporting was a significant challenge given the reduced number of ships that have been docking in Yangon since February 1,” adds Marc Guyonnaud.
According to Joris Thomas, Marc Guyonnaud and his teams have, however, successfully risen to the challenge. He praises the availability of the AGS Myanmar branch manager: “He is always prepared to listen and adapt the service to the often specific and sometimes changing needs of each client.” Moreover, Joris Thomas informs us that he “particularly appreciated the punctuality, the quality of the service (advice for efficient and relevant solutions, client follow-up, management of service providers), the courtesy and the positive attitude of AGS Myanmar.”