What is the strategy behind the new Dubai Cable Company (Ducab) brand?
The strategy for new Ducab is really one of leveraging our historical strength in the UAE and the GCC to expand both in terms of geography and new products. We have always been strong in our home territory, and we have offices throughout the GCC. We see an opportunity to grow there, and also to grow further afield. We have a sales office in the UK, and representation in Hong Kong and Australia. We are trying to take our brand—and, of course, we own the BICC brand as well as our own Ducab brand—to as many countries as possible. Our main focus, of course, after the GCC is Africa, the North and West in particular. Where we can we will sell to the other end—to the north, UK, to the south, Hong Kong—where British Standard and BICC may still have some resonance. We are geographically expanding our business in the region through our existing sales offices; therefore, we will beef up those sales offices, but also look for opportunities to expand with manufacturing bases overseas.
Ducab works very closely with the government in the safety sector. What have been the latest achievements?
Ducab has an initiative that we call Power Over Fire. Around six years ago, we launched a range of fire performance cables under the brand name Flam BICC. This is cable that is designed to last longer in the event of a fire. It is especially important to put on safety and fire alarm circuits within a metro station or high-rise block. We decided to go very high-end market with this. Therefore, we spent a lot of money in the beginning acquiring approvals from a UK agency, which is pretty much the gold standard for fire protection, run by the Loss Prevention Certification Board (LPCB). Certification from the LPCB is required by the civil defense authorities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi. As we launched that product, particularly in Dubai and then in Abu Dhabi, their civil defense departments have grown increasingly concerned at the number of fires, particularly in the summer. Originally, six or seven years ago, fires were generally in warehouses, but more recently there have been some really nasty fires in high-rise residential blocks. The whole issue of fire safety and prevention is moving up the agenda. Civil defense obviously wants to increase and improve construction standards, meaning it is happy to work with companies like Ducab. It also wants to improve awareness among the public about fire risk. A campaign we launched in 2013, Power Over Fire, was in conjunction with the civil defense authorities in both Dubai and Abu Dhabi. We had a mobile exhibition on a 40-foot trailer, manned it with both our own people and those from the civil defense, and we parked it in areas around Abu Dhabi. In conjunction with this, we conducted a survey in the local market regarding “flex." Now, “flexibles" are typically white cable used for an extension at home or a water heater or air conditioning. Almost 60% of the cable we found in the market was sub-standard, which generally means it has less copper in it than is needed. A cable that is nominally a certain size but has inadequate amounts of copper in it will get hotter, and the hotter it runs, the more likely it is to burn. Clearly, the civil defense authorities are very worried about this, and so we are working with them and the Emirates Authority for Standardization and Metrology (ESMA) to educate people.