OPERATING SINCE 1992

Qatar 2019 | TELECOMS & IT | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to George Thomas, Group CFO & Advisor to the Chairman of Intertec Group, on contributing to the ICT sector, retail space in Doha, and his outlook for the coming year.

How do you assess your contribution to the development of the ICT and other sectors in Qatar through your products and services?

Intertec Group started its business in 1992 as the exclusive dealer of Siemens mobile phones. Two years later we started distributing Samsung phones and made it the market leader in Qatar and the MENA region. Since we took the exclusive dealership of Samsung it grew from 100 phones sold per month to 80,000 phones. We launched a dedicated service center where we could honor all the customer warranties. Offering not only the product but also the service to our customers is the story of our success. Furthermore, Intertec is a multidivisional organization with eight business units; we have an interior decoration division that does certain ceilings and partitions, such as Villagio Mall, Sheraton Hotel, and Hamad International Airport (HIA), to name a few. We also have a B2B business division where we install display boards, and 2,000 were installed at HIA. Additionally, we are one of the major food suppliers to the government. The Ministry of Economy & Commerce floats tenders for oil, rice, sugar, and milk and we typically win at least three of these four. On top of that, we are a distributor of handsets supplying the oil and gas industry and the Ministry of Interior. We also have an agency for PAGS access control systems and are one of Ooredoo's main distributors of scratch cards. These are our basic business functions and they are strategic to meet the country's needs.

How is being the exclusive distributor of Huawei mobiles in Qatar a milestone in your operations?

For the last 18 years we have only been representing Samsung in Qatar and now we have taken the strategic decision to go multi-brand. That is the way the world moves and if we stick to one brand our growth potential is limited. After proving our success with Samsung mobiles, we now plan to double Huawei's smartphone market share in Qatar to 20% by year-end. This target can be achieved combining the quality of Huawei products with Intertec's strong distribution. In addition, at the beginning of the year we opened Huawei's first exclusive showroom in the Middle East, and more will be opened in the future. We aim to leverage our strength in the market and expand our business reach to other segments. In this regard, the relationship with Huawei will not only be on mobile distribution; it has B2B products and we are engaged with it to expand our relationship into other business segments.

How will you capitalize on the rapid expansion of retail spaces in Qatar?

The opening of malls and shopping centers provides two types of opportunities for us. On the one side, our B2C business units can take advantage of the mall's footfall. On the other, we can do business with the mall itself by selling handsets to the security staff, as an example. We aim to portray ourselves as a reliable partner in Qatar for anyone seeking to enter the country. We are in talks with certain Turkish companies willing to enter the country. We have been in Qatar for 25 years; we have strengths, know-how, and networks. We would like to use this experience to help new partners enter Qatar.

What sectors offer the most potential in Qatar for the future?

Over the years, different divisions have performed well depending on the market scenario and economic factors. For example, this year the interior decoration contracting and the food business were the most in demand. For the future, the telecoms industry and the food sector, where we have won many tenders, will be key for growth. We are not looking at regional expansion, although we have an office in Dubai to coordinate with suppliers. However, we are always seeking new opportunities based on a country's profile and the changing economic dynamics. We are always open to those changes and take advantage of those business opportunities.

What are your expectations for 2017?

This will be a great year for us. We currently have many food tenders in hand, accounting for over 230 million orders. In the interior decoration division we are executing the final stages of the New Hamad Port. We have a substantial amount of jobs in hand for these two divisions, and as far as telecommunications and consumer-based business is concerned, we are confident we can do well. We have taken on new brands such as Huawei and can only grow as we are starting from a low level of sales.