BEST NEVER REST

Jordan 2019 | ECONOMY | INTERVIEW

Nuqul exports to more than 70 countries and is at the forefront of technology, spearheading both disruption and expansion.

Ghassan Nuqul Vice
BIOGRAPHY
Ghassan Nuqul is Chairman of Fine Hygienic Holding. He holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering and a master’s degree in business administration from Purdue University, US. He is also chairman of the Boards of Delta Insurance Co., Universal Modern Industries Co., Nuqul Automotive, Integrated Automotive, Nuqul Engineering & Contracting Co., Quality Printing Press Co., Packaging Industries Co., and US Global Ventures. He is a member of several governmental councils and committees, and is involved in several local and international business associations and not-for-profit organizations and initiatives. He served on HM King Abdullah II’s Economic Consultative Council, and participated in developing the National Agenda as Chairman of the Employment Support and Vocational Training Theme.

What are the most recent updates regarding the Nuqul Group's aggressive growth strategy?

In 2015, the idea was to have a five-year business plan with specific KPIs and milestones for accelerating growth and achieving the business plan on a larger scale. In May 2015, we increased our capital by bringing in investors, namely Standard Chartered Private Equity. The idea is to be IPO ready. Whether we have an IPO in the end, merge with a conglomerate, or buy a number of players in the region, there will be some sort of an exit at least for the private equity team. What has happened in the industry and region has caught everybody by surprise. Pulp prices went up for 18 months in a row to historical highs, and prices of finished products went down. That was coupled with the removal of subsidies in some markets in the Gulf, which also weakened purchasing power.

What innovations and product solutions are part of your comprehensive strategy?

The first step is de-commoditizing tissue. We are coming up with interesting propositions for different types of consumers whereby we not only compete on price, but also on value, features, and enhanced customer satisfaction. We have already identified certain products within the tissue business. One example is Dueto, which we are testing in Egypt. All options of toilet paper include the hollow cardboard core inside, which means consumers at all stages pay for the air inside. We removed this core and inserted an extra small wrapped roll. This innovation is creative and disruptive and is one example of how we are innovating within our existing business segments.

What role do technology and e-commerce play in this disruption?

Technology has two main facets. One is e-commerce, with online B2B and B2C, and we are the first to launch an online B2B store. All hospitals and hotels can actually book online and are connected to our ERP system. The other element of e-commerce is integrating with souq.com, Amazon, and other platforms. Another facet is our department for digital transformation, which is separate from the IT department and is in charge of these developments in addition to internal developments. We aim to connect our fleets with smart solutions, allowing us to control driving habits, savings, and route optimization. We are also starting to work with AI to improve our in-store availability and shelf location, monitor consumer habits, and use analytics. We are at the forefront of technology as technology is the platform and the tool that will enable us to move forward, both in terms of disruption and expansion.

What are your key markets for exports?

We export raw materials and finished products to more than 70 countries. For target markets for expansion, Africa as a whole would definitely be one; there is also Pakistan and India. India and Pakistan are new markets for us in terms of finished products that we are looking at in addition to the markets we penetrated in 2018 such as Europe, the US, and others.

What are the current opportunities in Jordan?

There are great opportunities. What we need is an enabling environment; however, the fact that a businessman can see five ministers in one week in Jordan tells you that the government is willing to listen. We certainly need an economic plan with milestones, KPIs, timeframe, and accountability. Second, this plan should be trans-governance so no government can change it. Third, we need a major mindset transformation, from a government that looks at collecting taxes to a government that stimulates growth.