DP World Brand Profile
by Will Candy
DP World is a global trade enabler based in Dubai. The brand has traditionally focused its portfolio on golf's European Tour, however, it is now looking to expand into other sports and properties as its groundbreaking naming rights agreement with Renault F1 demonstrates.
28th August 2020, 11:36
Key Information
  • Founded: 2005
  • HQ Location: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
  • Industry: Data-driven logistics provider
  • Annual Revenue (2019): $7,686 million million (36.13% increase vs 2018)

Background 

DP World is a global data-driven logistics provider that is fully owned by the Dubai government.

The company itself was not founded until 2005, however its roots stem back to 1972, as Dubai’s Port Rashid was being developed. Seven years later the operator opened Jebel Ali Port, the busiest port outside of Asia and a facility that propelled it on its journey to becoming one of the largest enablers of global trade.

In 1991 Jebel Ali Port merged with Mina Rashid to form Dubai Ports Authority. The companies successes around the region in the late 1990s – when it took on operations in Saudi Arabia, India and Romania – set Dubai Ports Authority up to expand internationally in the early 2000’s. In 2005 the company merged with Dubai Ports International (formed itself in 1999 to manage and operate container terminals outside the UAE), to form DP World. One-year later DP World bought The Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation (P&O) Company, increasing its global network and global position in Asia, India, Australia, the Americas, Europe and Africa.

DP World today operates a geographically diverse network of over 150 trade enabling operations in 45 countries that provides access to some of the world’s busiest production centres, as well as its largest consumer markets, in mature and emerging economies.

The company reported revenues of US$7,685.9 million for the fiscal year ended December 2018 (FY2019), an increase of 36.1% over FY2018. In FY2019, the company’s operating margin was 27.1%, compared to an operating margin of 34% in FY2018. In FY2019, the company recorded a net margin of 15.5%, compared to a net margin of 23% in FY2018. 

Sponsorship Overview

DP World’s sponsorship strategy has three key pillars:

  1. Build brand awareness
  2. Build a book of business through reaching customers and stakeholders
  3. Communicate brand values, namely inclusivity and diversity

In this, DP World’s current sponsorship portfolio is centred around golf, believing the sport is best placed to help it achieve these three goals. As a global operating business it was important for the brand to choose a sport played across all continents, meanwhile the brand places emphasis on the fact that it is a game for everybody, aligning the sport with its core brand values.

To date, DP World has targeted sponsorship of specific events on golf’s European Tour, alongside acting as a partner of the Tour itself. The competition epitomises the global nature of golf today, operating 46 tournaments in 29 countries, a lot of which where DP World also operate (as illustrated by the map below). The brand currently sponsors four tournaments on the tour, a portfolio that is headlined by title sponsorship of one of the Tour’s most high-profile tournaments, the season-ending Tour Championship held in Dubai. The tournament, now known as the DP World Tour Championship, brings together the top 50 players on the European Tour to battle it out for an $8 million prize pool, one of the biggest offered on the tour. DP world also sponsors European Tour sanctioned competitions in the UK (the PGA Championship), Hong Kong (the Hong Kong Open), and India (the Indian Open), three other countries in which it operates. Sponsorship of such tournaments are important opportunity for DP World to engage with customers and stakeholders that matter to the brand.

In December 2019 DP World stated that it was looking to expand its portfolio of sponsorships on the European Tour, however it is also open to sponsoring properties outside of the competition, providing it provides the brand with a platform to meet its sponsorship objectives. This proved to be true as the trade and logistics brand announced a ground-breaking new sponsorship with Renault Formula 1. The agreement struck on the same week as the beginning of the 2020 Formula season saw DP World become title sponsor and global logistics partner of the F1 team. Meanwhile in golf, the brand’s now 11-year sponsorship of the season-ending European Tour Championship is set to expire after the 2020 edition, with potential renewal of the deal forming part of the brand’s sponsorship portfolio evaluation.

DP World is also a sponsor of horse racing through the Dubai World Cup. The race day, held at Meydan Racecourse, boasts the largest prize pool in the sport ($35 million in 2019), and marks the end of the UAE racing season, bringing together the world's top jockeys, trainers and thoroughbreds. DP World signed a five-year strategic sponsorship agreement with Meydan Group that saw the brand become a Meydan Pillar Partner and Race Sponsor of the Group 1 race, Dubai Turf, in the Dubai World Cup. As a state-backed firm, sponsorship of some of Dubai’s top sporting events (which includes its title sponsorship of the DP World Tour Championship) forms another important part of DP World’s sponsorship portfolio, as it looks to promote the country as a centre of excellence for sport, tourism and trade.

In May 2019, DP World announced English professional golfer Ian Poulter as the brand’s first global ambassador. A player known on a global stage, the agreement is geared towards building its brand awareness, whilst also utilising Poulter’s outgoing personality off the course when engaging with customers and stakeholders. 

DP World prefers to engage in long-term sponsorships as it looks to present the brand as an integral part of the competition. This is especially true in its sponsorships in Dubai where the brand is currently engaged in five-year contracts in its sponsorships of the Dubai World Cup and partnership with the European Tour.

 

Biggest Deals

 

  • Official status: Title sponsor, global logistics partner
  • Partnership start: 2020
  • Estimated annual value: $15 million

In February 2020, DP World diverged from its usual sponsorship focus on golf, through announcing title sponsorship deal with Renault Formula 1. In result the team is now officially referred to as Renault DP World Formula 1. The agreement also saw DP World become the French based teams ‘global logistics partner,’ a label suitable to the brands business. The agreement eclipses any previous sponsorships in terms of value, with Sportcal estimating the deal to be valued at $15 million per year, and signals the brands now increasing commitment to using sports sponsorship as a tool to meet its marketing objectives.

In becoming title sponsor of Renault F1, DP World will be able to develop its brand recognition amongst potential customers to an extent which perhaps none of its original sponsorships in golf could. This purely stems from Formula 1’s global popularity, and in lending its name to an established team on the circuit, DP World will naturally see its brand name become more recognised. Alongside naming rights, DP World also attained prominent branding on the Renault Formula 1 car, as well across the team’s other digital and physical assets.

The agreement however extends far beyond this, and ties into the DP World’s strategic objectives. These are, according to Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, DP World’s chief executive, “to develop innovative logistics solutions for the automotive sector.”

Sulayem continued to say: “This partnership is a first step in the exploration of ways to make the global automotive supply chain more efficient by lowering costs, increasing speed and transparency, and mitigating the environmental impact.” Indeed, demonstrating the brands ability to achieve such a feat with a recognised establishment such as Renault Formula One could prove to be extremely profitable for DP World in the future as automotive business round the world look to reduce their respective carbon footprints as a result of government policy.

 

 

  • Official status: Title sponsor
  • Length: 5 years
  • Current deal: 2016-2020
  • Estimated annual value: $6.5 million 

DP World’s sponsorship of the European Tours season-ending competition stems back to 2009, when the Dubai-based port operator became the presenting sponsor of the tournament’s first edition. 2012 saw DP World upgrade its sponsorship to become the title sponsor in a move that saw the competition renamed the DP World Tour Championship. The current contract takes the brand’s title sponsorship of the competition through to the 2020 edition. 

The tournament annually attracts a lot of coverage as the top 60 European Tour players compete in the final event of the Race to Dubai. The 2019 edition for example, saw globally popular players Rory McIlroy, John Rahm, and Tommy Fleetwood compete, a line-up that aids the brand in its goal of building brand awareness, whilst also acting as a perfect opportunity to host and interact with important customers and stakeholders. Meanwhile, the tournament has generated a gross economic benefit to Dubai, an additional benefit for the state-backed firm.

DP World brings the EDGA Championship to the DP World Tour Championship

The 2019 DP Tour World Championship marked the first time the EDGA Dubai Finale, a 36 hole event that features eight of the world's best Golfers with disability, took place alongside the competition. Bringing the EDGA Championship to be played alongside the DP World Tour Championship acted as an important move for the brand in its goal of communicating  its brand values. In being a competition centered around inclusion, DP World is able to demonstrate the importance of inclusiveness to the company through such case studies.

Notable Deals

Dubai World Cup 

 

Acting as the brands only sports partnership outside of golf, DP World signed a five-year strategic sponsorship agreement with Meydan Group in January 2015, that saw the brand become a Meydan pillar partner and a race sponsor of the Group 1 race, Dubai Turf, in the Dubai World Cup. The Dubai Turf currently offers a purse of US$5 million, which places it amongst the richest races on turf in the world.

The signing of the partnership back in 2015 meant that along with its sponsorship of the European Tour Championship, DP World has now showed its support for two of Dubai’s premier sporting events. As a state-backed firm, DP World takes considerable interest in Dubai, and the partnership represents the brand’s contribution to promoting the country as a destination for sports tourism.

Ian Poulter 

 

Ian Poulter, known as the ‘postman’ for the player’s impressive Ryder Cup performances, is seemingly a fitting nickname for a brand that moves cargo from origin to destination. This however, was just a happy coincidence when the English golf professional was announced as DP World’s first global ambassador. In choosing Poulter to become a brand ambassador, DP World placed emphasis on the player’s natural abilities off the course, in terms in engaging with customers and stakeholders. Such qualities are not often found in top athletes and the importance of personality should not be overlooked by brands that seek a big name to represent its brand across the world. Poulter is an exciting presence for DP World to have within its hospitality booths at competitions and within the business when visiting offices and engaging with customers.

DP World also activates the agreement on social and digital platforms as it looks to communicate its global business operations to current and perspective customers. Poulter also sports the DP World logo on his sleeve during competitions, aiding the brand in its goal of building brand awareness.

Timeline 

 

 

 

Strategy Breakdown

Sponsorship Spend by Sport

      *All values are estimates

Since 2009, DP World has focused its sports sponsorship on golf. In a business sense, the sport meets the brands needs as it is played and watched across the world. Meanwhile, the diversity and inclusiveness of the sport the brand says, enables it to engage with all its customers and stakeholders and bring other aspects into the game, e.g. the aforementioned EDGA Championship. To date, DP World sponsors four tournaments on the European Tour, all competitions in countries where DP World operates. In 2018, DP World introduced sponsorship of the European Tour itself, giving the brand season-long presence.

2020 saw DP World extend its sponsorship portfolio beyond the sport as it struck a deal in Formula 1 through a deal with Renault. As aforementioned, one of DP World’s strategic objectives has been to develop innovative logistics solutions for the automotive sector, thus an agreement in Formula 1, which acts as the pinnacle of motorsports, is an effective platform for the brand to market this section of the business.

DP World’s horse racing sponsorship is perhaps more about the event than the sport. The estimated $3.5 million spend comes from its sponsorship of Meydan Group and the Group 1 race, Dubai Turf, in the Dubai World Cup. Known to be one of the premier sporting events in Dubai, and the United Arab Emirates, supporting the event through sponsorship was something of interest to state-backed firms such as DP World. Unlike golf, it would be surprising to see DP World expand its horse racing sponsorship portfolio beyond the country.   

 

DP World Deals

 

  *All values are estimates

DP World’s move into Formula 1 through its naming rights deal with Renault represents the brands most expensive deal to date. This is perhaps surprising considering it is only the brand’s second sponsorship deal outside of golf, however serves to demonstrate the brand’s confidence in the deal.

Meanwhile DP World’s sponsorship of two of Dubai’s premier events account for its second and fourth moat expensive sponsorships. The brand’s position as title sponsor of the European Tour Championship is estimated to be valued by Sportcal at $6.5 million per year, whilst sponsorship of Meydan group and the Dubai Turf is estimated to cost $3.5 million annually. Outside of Dubai, and its partnership with the European Tour, the brand is estimated to spend $800,000 a year on sports sponsorship. This value includes its agreement with Ian Poulter and three European Tour competitions in the PGA Championship, the Hong Kong Open and the Indian Open.

COVID-19 Impact

DP World ‘prepares for the worse’ as Coronavirus inflicts heavy blow to global trade

The coronavirus crisis has stifled world trade, 80% of which is transported by sea, leaving major supply chains paralysed and scaling down imports and exports, including from powerhouse China. Bin Sulayem, Chairman of DP World, said the pandemic has taken a "big toll" on trade, eclipsing the aftermath of the 2007-2008 global financial crisis and drawing similarities with the post-World War II devastation.

Predictions of a U or V-shaped recovery, with a slump followed by a pick-up, were too optimistic, according to Bin Sulayem said. Instead, the DP World Chairman warned that the world faced an L-shaped scenario -- a drop followed by a slump -- unless stimulus measures were adopted. Bin Sulayem said trade handled by DP World through its 82 ports, terminals and logistics centres worldwide dropped by only 4.0% in the first quarter. "But this could be misleading,” noting that the traffic reflected orders placed before the crisis. "From now on until the next four months, that's the key issue... what's going to happen -- we need to watch but we are preparing for the worst.” 

Pandemic impact will likely slow down DP World sponsorship expansion

Prior to the pandemic, DP World were seeking to further build their sponsorship portfolio, part of which included its flagship naming rights agreement with Renault Formula 1. A tough economic climate however coupled with the disruption to the sports calendar will likely see DP World scale back any immediate plans to further invest in the marketing tool. We do not expect though COVID-19 to impact its decision whether or not to renew its title sponsorship of the European Tour Championship, which expires after 2020 edition in played (scheduled for December). Financially, DP World holds the clout to fund the deal, as such, a decision not to renew would more signal more of a shift in sponsorship strategy than anything else.

First year of Renault sponsorship disrupted by COVID-19

In February 2020, DP World announced a title sponsorship deal with Renault Formula 1. In result the team is now officially referred to as Renault DP World Formula 1 and its brand logo is placed adorn the race car and team outfit. Sportcal estimates the annual value of the deal to be in the region of $15 million. The giant Dubai-based ports operator therefore will have been disappointed to see the 2020 Formula 1 season disrupted by COVID-19 pandemic. The beginning of the season was pushed back from March to the first week of July. Meanwhile, at the time of writing, the number of races on the Formula 1 calendar has more than halved from a record-breaking 22 Grand Prix to 10. Even in the event of more races being added to the calendar, the pandemic will certainly make it harder of DP World to extract previously anticipated value from the partnership in the first year at least.

The below table lists each of DP Worlds sponsored properties which have been impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic:

 

In The News

February 2020 - DP World announced it would delist and return to full state ownership in a deal valuing the company at $13.9 billion (Nasdaq)

November 2019 - DP World to develop free economic zone for industry and logistics in Namibia (Gulf News)

October 2019 – DP World handled 17.7 million twenty-foot equivalent units across its global portfolio of container terminals in 3Q 2019, with gross container volumes growing by 1.1-per-cent year-on-year on a like-for-like basis (DP World)

September 2019 - DP World sings up to become logistics partner of the 2019 World Energy Congress (DP World)