SHERIF MEGEED

Saudi Arabia 2021 | INDUSTRY | VIP INTERVIEW

By modifying its international solutions to fit the local market and needs, Jotun is able to stay ahead of its competitors.

Jotun Saudia was founded in 1984. What is your outlook for operations in Saudi Arabia, and which sector is Jotun Saudia focusing on in terms of growth?

Jotun Saudia is focused on paints and coatings, and we are number-one in Saudi Arabia in this business. We are active in four segments. Our main focus is decorative paint used in construction, while our second focus is protective paint and coatings used mainly in oil and gas, energy, and infrastructure projects. We then have marine paints used for ships. The marine segment provides an opportunity to grow in Saudi Arabia because the country is investing in new shipyards on its eastern seaboard. Fourthly, we have powder coatings that are unique to Jotun Saudia and used in many industries, such as oil and gas, piping, and manufacturing.

Jotun Saudia has introduced the world's first resilient antifouling technology, SeaLion Resilient. What other environmentally friendly initiatives are in the pipeline?

We have had the environmental program Green Steps for many years. The program does not solely focus on our end products; it starts from the raw materials, goes through our manufacturing process, our products, and finally their application. We look at the full product cycle to study each step's impact on the environment. This is not only to invent new products but to develop new ways of producing and to look at what materials we are using. Second, regarding the development of end-user benefits, we have the latest technology, and our parent company is keen on environmental protection because of our Scandinavian roots. We have developed it further locally in our R&D, and we apply an environmentally friendly model of high quality. We are releasing environmentally friendly products in our four segments, including decorative products related to house interiors and exteriors and industrial products that are applicable to airports and refineries.

How is Jotun Saudia increasing its technological innovations, specifically with AI affecting the paint industry and your operations in this field?

We are far ahead when compared to similar industries. When it comes to our factory operations and manufacturing, we use many automated machines. We have three factories in Saudi Arabia. As one of them was established 30 years ago, we update our machinery and automation annually. When it comes to e-solutions, most of our processes are digitalized now. Our ERP system is one of the latest, and our other operating and finance systems are digital. We handle our day-to-day activities electronically, thus eliminating the need for paper. In general, we are much less dependent on manual processes today.

How has the Kingdom's shift away from being an oil-based economy enhanced and increased your business?

The impact on our business depends on the government's spending. If the Saudi government is spending on non-oil and gas sectors, it affects our bottom line. For example, the government has announced a huge Ministry of Housing project through which some 47,000 housing units will be built all over the country. As paint is required for this type of construction project, we sell paints to these types of projects. But we also benefit when the government focuses on the oil and gas sector.

How is Jotun Saudia looking to leverage its international advantages as an established and highly knowledgeable local partner?

Our motto is global experience with a local presence. We have international experience and international R&D labs all over the world, so we share knowledge. But when we apply this knowledge, we try to use our local and regional R&D lab to innovate products that fit the local market and needs. This is why we are ahead of the game compared to our competitors. Jotun Saudia is the biggest paint manufacturer with the highest number of companies, factories, and R&D centers in the Middle East. Nobody has invested like us over so many years.