MEALS ON WHEELS

UAE, Dubai 2013 | INDUSTRY | B2B: FMCGS

Companies in Dubai are increasingly using the Emirate as a hub to export and expand to the nearby region and beyond.

Jeyaram Sabramanion Jr.
JEYARAM SABRAMANION JR.
CEO
Barakat Group of Companies
Tarek El Sakka
TAREK EL SAKKA
General Manager
Dubai Refreshments

How did you manage to achieve an 80% market share in the luxury hotel sector?

JEYARAM SUBRAMANION JR The reason is very simple; we have not had any resignations in 27 years. Any company with a high turnover of employees cannot be successful, so we believe in investing in people. If you look at the factory, it is the only one of its kind in the UAE and the Middle East; that is what prompted us to establish a factory here, and for the past 20 years we have steadily grown, and will continue to grow. The average family from Dubai will often prefer to purchase our semi-processed fruits and vegetables from the supermarket, and then go home and quickly cook something for the family, rather than preparing a meal from scratch. This is value-added, and not only that, it is guaranteed by the ISO 2000 standard.

How do you make sure you have a strong presence in the market?

TAREK EL SAKKA We are over 50 years old, and we were certainly the first drinks manufacturing company in the UAE. Over the years, we have built infrastructure and an organization that we use to penetrate the market and service the largest number of customers possible. We have the presence and the ability to respond to competition, and to protect our market share, since being there first always helps. We have protected our market and invested in our business. While there are many companies that distribute throughout the UAE with only one warehouse, we have warehouses everywhere. We are also a strong believer in people and have invested heavily to make the best possible organization and to run the company professionally.

What are your plans for expansion?

JSJ Our cold chain plays a key role; we cannot afford to break the cold chain. This is also one of the reasons why the new logistics center is being built. It will cover the entire cold chain, meaning we will not experience breaks in the future. Our entire operation will move there when it is complete. This being said, Muscat is just a six-hour drive away, and therefore we can service it from here. Other cities such as Doha can be served through air shipments and some road shipments; however, we have not entered other countries at the moment because the border is usually an issue. For example, whether you export to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, or Qatar, all road-transported exports have to cross border points where there is no fast-tracking of perishable goods; everything must queue for clearance.

TES We will continue to grow. Right now, you have to remember that recent years have been tough for the entire world, and I think that the UAE withstood this nicely. Over the past few months, we have noticed a pick-up in the local economy, and we hope that that will translate into a pick-up in our business. I think we will continue to grow our base business and our traditional GCC business in the high single digits, or the low double digits. In addition to this, we have an ambition to expand our product portfolio, particularly when we open the new factory, which will be toward the end of 2013. We will have the capability to produce the products that we are not capable of producing today, and we will be able to sell non-alcoholic beer, teas, and products that require pasteurization. And then, we will look at how we can, and if it is possible for us to expand geographically. I see this company continuing to grow nicely. All the big decisions take time.