I’LL FIELD THIS

Qatar 2015 | ECONOMY | VIP 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.

Jaidah Group is a family company that is more than 100 years old and which has deep roots in Qatari society. What are the core principles that have made this company such an ongoing success?

Jaidah Group has been in business for over 100 years and it's 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. It's important for us to be a company that people trust and want to do business with. Being around for a long time, we greatly value the trust of our employees and our customers. 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. Now we have companies from all over the world, from Asia, the US, Europe, and more. Everyone wants a piece of the pie. Therefore, in Qatar you no longer compete locally, but you compete on an international basis. This means that we also have to focus very much 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 so as 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.

“We have a very exciting future ahead of us."

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 news. That said, being diversified brings two benefits to the Group, both of which make us very 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 very 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. The economy did not grow significantly and there was not a lot of business activity. But now it's very interesting to see a new cycle 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.

What is it that makes Jaidah the preferred partner for global companies to enter the Qatari market?

It comes back to the fact that Jaidah has been around for such a long time and has built successful partnerships. It is a recognized and successful name, it has a good reputation, and a good network with good people who are professional, knowledgeable, and experienced. Whenever we sit with new customers, they are always reassured by the level of knowledge and experience we bring to the table. We know the sectors that we operate in, we know the market, and we have the professionalism to offer what our clients need. This is where our added advantage lies at the end of the day.

How does Jaidah aim to contribute to the Qatar's National Vision 2030 (QNV 2030)?

The QNV 2030 and the corporate vision of the Jaidah Group are very much in sync, as you might expect from a business that has grown alongside the rise of Qatar. The QNV 2030 has four pillars, with one that relates to economy. It calls for diversification and the introduction of the knowledge economy businesses. For us at Jaidah, that means Qatar wants to be more sophisticated and attract more knowledgeable people. Today, our major focus at Jaidah is on how to move from being just a dealer, an agent, or a middleman that imports a product and sells it in the market, to a company that offers additional value, providing integrated solutions and satisfying an ever more complex business environment. So we see the Group playing a supporting role and being a private sector leader. We will do this by focusing on our strengths, such as our great supply chain backbone. We need to take that and increase its productivity to help our divisions and also help our customers become more productive, getting our products out there faster and more efficiently, and evolving into something beyond being just a trader. That's our target, and it's a target fully in line with the QNV 2030.

What is the future strategy of the Jaidah Group?

We have a very exciting future ahead of us. We will keep evolving and expanding to meet the needs of both our customers and the country. On a day-to-day level that means continuing to improve the service we provide to our existing clients, and identifying new business activities that will be important to Qatar's economic growth. We will be launching an entirely new brand and service in the automotive sector this year. This goes hand in hand with the QNV 2030. We have another 16 years to go, and I'm optimistic about what we'll achieve during this period. There are major milestones ahead; we will have hosted the World Cup in 2022, and what I am sure of is that we will stay true to our vision and values. It all starts with understanding what it is that our customers need and require to make their lives better and easier to achieve their targets.

© The Business Year - October 2014