Jul. 8, 2021


Ullattil Achu

Qatar

Ullattil Achu

Group CEO, Dyarco International Group

BIO

Ullattil Achu has been the Group CEO of Dyarco International Group since 2005. He has over 22 years of holding executive management and business leadership roles with prominent international banks, including consulting for a World Bank-funded project. He holds executive and senior directorship in some of the group's companies including Jotun Paints Qatar, Leminar Qatar, Al Failaq International Trading, Qatar Oilfield Supply Center, and Singapore Petroleum Qatar, to name a few.


What were the main milestones for Dyarco in 2020?

When COVID-19 occurred, we were prepared as a society. We know how to think out of the box and understand the opportunities that challenges offer. There are some issues that we could not handle, but they opened other paths. For us, the best thing to happen during COVID-19 was that we developed our teams to be much more productive and coordinated. We were also fortunate that our cash flow was not severely affected because of the measures taken by His Highness the Amir. In comparative terms, Qatar was one of those countries that had little to complain about.

What are your growth strategies to expand to other sectors, and what is your focus over the next 10 years toward the Qatar National Vision 2030?

The blockade gave us the opportunity to develop internal resources. Since the blockade, we have started to understand that in order to be committed to the national goals, such as the 2030 National Vision, a company has to establish solid production units aligned with the principles of the vision. Now that the blockade has been lifted, we have more supplying options if necessary, though the strategy remains the same. We need to produce here, which is our growth strategy toward 2030. For example, although we have not started the commercial production of our new paint factory yet, we have already done all the registration and administrative procedures. We established the company and are now doing much better than we used to. There has been a great deal of industry coming into the country, and that will not change. For example, now in many large supermarkets, the Made in Qatar section is huge. Now, with the lifting of the blockade, Made in Qatar products will be sold in stores in Dubai and Saudi Arabia, so our growth strategy is definitely based on this strategy. Depending on competition in terms of pricing and product quality, we will have to adjust the sectors of interest and our strategy.

What digital strategies and new technologies have you been adopting during this time of limited human interactions?

We are not traveling as much as in the past, though we are communicating more, faster, and more efficiently than ever before from our screens. Now, shipping costs have dramatically risen, so technology allows us to control costs and compensate loses. There will be a stabilization of shipping rates, and margins will be interesting thanks to the new trend of communicating digitally. Physical interactions will only be for the most important issues.

What key factors made the government in Qatar so successful during this period?

The key is protecting the circulation of cash in the economy. The government reacted immediately to COVID-19; it injected QAR75 billion in order to support most affected industries, particularly SMEs, retail, tourism, real estate, and more. If these sectors had not received this support, they would have struggled to survive. All these were taken care of by the state by refinancing the loss of revenue. The economy continued to function, though some industries still suffered heavily. Hotels and restaurant segments suffered heavily but they were all compensated by the state by taking care of their losses to some extent. The quick reaction of the government allowed most companies and industries to survive.

What are your main priorities for 2021?

Once the confidence is built up and returns, there will be more business transactions, and liquidity will improve. That is our first priority: to assess how the situation and market trends will develop. If there are no improvements, we will have to continue focusing on cost control to maintain our performance in 2021. We are proud that we kept some areas operational and have had a fairly successful result because of local demand and ongoing projects, like the 2022 World Cup. We will maintain the same strategy for 2021.

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