ALL-ROUND INNOVATION

Morocco 2020/21 | REAL ESTATE & CONSTRUCTION | INTERVIEW

As the largest construction holding in Morocco in terms of capacity, presence, and turnover, Ménara Holding's vision is to constantly innovate and reposition itself in the regional market with integrated solutions.

Mohamed Ait Benzaiter
BIOGRAPHY

Mohamed Ait Benzaiter is the General Manager of Ménara Holding. With a PhD in management sciences from Pascal Paoli University CORSE France and 20 years of experience, he is also former president of the CGEM Regional Social Relations and Employment Commission, president of the regional Labels and CSR CGEM commission, and former president of the Association of Managers of Employment and Training. In addition, he is a member of the Institute of Moroccan Social Auditors (IMAS), an active member of the ESSEC France university association, and a member of the Marrakech Network for Young Entrepreneurs.

Ménara Holding recently established operations in Ivory Coast. What is the group's strategy regarding Africa?
We had a strategic expansion plan at the national level that was based on a five-year plan focused on basic trade. We decided to continue our expansion on an international level to prepare ourselves for this sub-Saharan adventure. In 2019, we decided to create two branches in Ivory Coast as part of our expansion plan. We have also confirmed our presence in Morocco as a model to follow in the construction industry, particularly in prefabricated, ready-mixed concrete, transport, and other activities, which allow us to have a strong business model. The idea is to adapt this model to seize more opportunities at the sub-Saharan level, starting with Ivory Coast, which will be Ménara's hub. Our ambition is to be present in Ivory Coast through our core business, which is the installation of prefabricated factories and all things quarrying. Sub-Saharan Africa and Africa in general is an economic market that has a great orientation at the international level, so there are opportunities.

How do you evaluate the outcome of the group's 2016-20 strategic vision?
The balance sheet in general is positive. We are currently the national benchmark in terms of capacity, presence, and turnover. Several structuring investment projects that are part of the vision have achieved 90% of their objectives. The loss of our founder had an impact at the beginning, but we were able to preserve continuity and put in place a succession plan that was worked out well in advance, thanks to the clear-sightedness of the president. Currently, we are in the process of consolidating this plan by 2020, as there is another road to travel throughout the year. Generally, despite the construction sector's poor growth, the group has been able to achieve growth. This is important because the ecosystem of construction and building since 2016 has been stagnant, particularly in Marrakesh. We have grown over 25% during this time.

What are the group's main objectives for the next five years?
Our objectives lie on two main axes: a possible IPO of the group's main branch, Ménara Préfa; and an operational presence in sub-Saharan Africa. In addition, our ambition is to be present in other regions in Morocco. With this 2021-2025 vision, if we want to maintain our position as leaders, it is vital that we always innovate and reposition ourselves in the market through an
integrated solution. We aim to not only focus on product innovation, but also on service, quality, digital, human, and financial aspects.

What is your evaluation of the building and public works sector in Morocco?
Unfortunately, in the construction sector, there are some risks. Some work is being done at the moment, but it remains among the sectors that are under-supervised. There is also the informal sector, which brings in unfair competition. Investing in CSR and innovation is still a huge cost for the group, and not all operators have the same spirit. But I remain optimistic because there are projects in the Agadir region that are open, and there is a willingness to structure and develop this sector. We are working with other companies in the sector that have the same objectives and the same orientation in terms of fair competition and development, because it is through these values that Morocco can climb the ladder and evolve.

Ménara Préfa represents 70% of the group. Are youlooking into more diversification?
At present, we will stay the way we are. Ménara Préfa is the locomotive; it is the flagship company of the group and, in terms of strategic evolution, we are integrating all innovation into Ménara Préfa. There is another pole we are developing in real estate, but, for the moment, Ménara Préfa will remain the engine.