I’LL FIELD THIS

Qatar 2015 | ECONOMY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Mohamed J. Jaidah, Group Executive Director of Jaidah Group, on the dynamics of being a family business, and how diversity allows for better risk management.

Mohamed J. Jaidah
BIOGRAPHY
As Group Executive Director at Jaidah Group, Mohamed J. Jaidah leads the operations, business development activities, strategies, and management of the Group’s divisions. He was educated in Paris, gaining a BA in International Management from the ESSEC Group, and speaks fluent French, Spanish, English, and Arabic. Mohamed Jaidah is passionate about entrepreneurship, and was elected President of the Entrepreneurs Organization (EO) Qatar chapter for 2013-14. He also holds a position on the advisory board at ICT Qatar’s Business Incubation Center, and is a member of the Steering Committee for the Qatar Media Industry Forum.

Jaidah Group is a family company with deep roots in Qatari society. What are the core principles that have made the company such an ongoing success?

Jaidah Group has been in business for over 100 years and it is a traditional family business in the GCC sense of family businesses, whereby we are active in a lot of fields, from automotive to heavy equipment, and from safety and tools to lubricants and electrical goods. The business has evolved through the years based on the core principles of family, as we are a family in a small community where it's not only the company's reputation, but also the family's reputation. We seek to be fully honest and transparent in order to maintain both the company and the family image. Currently, we are very much in a period of natural evolution. Qatar has been a major center of international attention since winning the right to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, with a lot of international businesses wanting to set up shop here. Everyone wants a piece of the pie. Therefore, in Qatar you no longer compete locally, but on an international basis. This means that we have to focus on service excellence and customer satisfaction. At the end of the day, Jaidah is mainly a B2B business, apart from the retail automotive side, so it's all about how we can increase our customers' productivity to help them perform better. Our major aim today is to become the main go-to company that provides products and services to our clients that enable them to be more productive.

The company operates under three separate divisions. How did this structure come about?

It is a case of how the business evolved, and you'll find a similar mix of sectors in other GCC family businesses. In our case it's automotive, industrial supplies, and electrical goods. At the heart of the Group is automotive and heavy equipment, which falls into industrial supplies. That is from where we set out from back in the day and we have gradually expanded, although not into any radically different fields. Safety equipment, tools, and lubricants are natural accompaniments to what we do, and outside of automotive we mainly focus on the construction business.

What is the importance for Jaidah of having such a diversified portfolio?

I think it's important to stress that we are only in businesses where we're able to be market leaders and provide customers with services or products that answer their needs. That said, being diversified brings two benefits to the Group that make us durable and sustainable. Traditionally, it was important to have a diversified portfolio due to the size of the market. Qatar had a small population with a small market, no matter what field you were in. In that respect, it was important for companies to have a diversification strategy. Today, diversification is important because of the business cycles that we see in the economy and the country. As you know, we just came out of a tough three-year period in which the economy did not perform well outside of oil and gas. But now a new cycle is starting with the construction boom that Qatar is witnessing, and our heavy equipment division has been very active in the past few months as a result. Now we are also starting to see some renewed activity in the automotive sector. New projects have been awarded, which need equipment and employees. New employees are coming in, both white collar and blue collar, and they will need cars, then in a few years time they will need electrical components. So when you are diversified, if one sector is slow, you can be doing well in a different sector, and this keeps the cash flow going and the business running. It also minimizes risk in the long term, allowing us to hedge our risks by not being active in just one field.