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Monday, 04 September, 2017, 16 : 11 PM [IST]

‘We are looking at expanding our global footprint through associations & tenders’

Having set up operations in 2005, BLS International Services Ltd. today provides services like visa outsourcing, passport, consular, attestation and citizen services to the governments and diplomatic missions across the world. Shikhar Aggarwal, Joint Managing Director, BLS International Services Ltd., in an email interaction with Anurag Tiwari, elaborates on the company’s performance and their target for the coming future.
Q. In the last financial year, how many Indian applications were processed by BLS? Which are the top countries for which the applications were received?
A. We started operations in 2005 and till date we have processed around 18 million applications, consisting of visas, consular services, recruitment of specialised cadres and attestation services. BLS International Services Ltd. processed an approximate of 2.7 million applications in 2016 and 4.2 million applications in FY 2017. The top 10 countries in FY 2016 that constituted to 90% of the total volume were South Africa, Russia, Spain, Netherland, UAE, Canada, Oman, USA, China, & Singapore. We are currently operational in more than 58 countries through 2,320 offices in the domestic and international markets.

Q. After the Punjab tender, is the company looking to replicate the same model with more Indian states. Please elaborate on the plans.
A. E-governance in India has no better ambassador than Punjab. Launched in the middle of November last year, our Sewa Kendras dot the state map through 2,147 centres. In the nine months of operations, the daily footfall is over 40,000. Nearly 700,000 applications in May, 2017, is sufficient proof that the citizens of this progressive state have embraced e-governance with both hands. We are already at advance-level discussions with other state governments as this is the future for our rapidly developing country. Apart from Indian states, we are exploring global governments for citizen/front-end services. While exploring the opportunities globally, we achieved success with Islamic Republic of Afghanistan for five Gulf countries— UAE, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain and Kuwait—for citizen services. With this USD 5 million contract from the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, we aim at opening eight centres and process around 200,000 applications for the citizens of Afghanistan. We are also looking at expanding our global footprints through numerous associations and tenders across Asia, Africa, Europe, South America, North America and the Middle East markets.

Q. What new and innovative services is the company implementing to assist customers for easy visa processing?
A. Our focus has always been to provide hassle-free services to our customers. We have reduced the renewal period of Indian passports in the UAE. The process which took 40 days earlier now only takes 5 days. We offer a range of prime time appointment services like Keep my passport when applying service, SMS Pass back service, premium lounge for the comfort of applicants, Walk-in without appointment service, Form Filling Assistance, Application and Document Checks, Online fee payment assistance, Electronic Visa Waiver Service, etc. We have already introduced the Mobile Biometric Services for applicants wherein they don’t have to visit our centres rather our staff members goes to their preferred location and provide convenience at their doorstep for visa application. Though, it is only done wherever missions are providing their consent. In Algeria and Morocco, we have taken several measures to ensure that the appointment system is not misused and brought in multiple security logics, changed coding at the back-end and implemented more secure features to identify the genuine applicants. One such introduction is SMS OTP system to restrict bogus appointments which was not the case earlier. We have cut down the appointment mafia drastically which used to sell the appointments and genuine applicants were suffering as all the appointment slots were blocked.

Q. Till December last year i.e. Q3 FY16, BLS reported a profit of INR 16.67 crore. What was net financial result of company in FY16 and what are the expectations for the current fiscal?
A. For the financial year ended March 31, 2017, BLS International reported a gross revenue of INR 635 crores, up 26% and an EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) of INR 82 crores, up 124%. The PAT (profit after tax) stood at INR 50 crores, up 62% over the corresponding year last year. During the Q4 ended March 2017, the company rolled out its operations for the Spain contract. It reported gross revenue of INR 194 crores, and an EBITDA of INR 34 Crores, up 70% and 529% respectively, over the corresponding period of last quarter. The company maintained its EBITDA margins of 51% (40% corresponding period last year) on net revenue. The company reported net profit of INR 29.06 crore for Q1 FY18, up by 301%, as compared to INR 7.25 crore in the corresponding quarter of last fiscal. The company’s Q1 FY18 PAT margin stood at a robust 14.9%, as compared to 5.8% in Q1 FY17.
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