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he past couple of months have been a blur for us. We have had whirlwind visits from the General Managers of the Furniture and Interiors Group (FIG), the Security Equipment Division (SED) and the Storage Solutions Group (SSG). They have travelled with us to our clients in the UAE as well as to other countries whose operations we oversee.
If our calculations are correct we should be ending the year 2003-2004 with an approximate growth of 450 to 500 per cent over the financial year 2001-2002 and 100 per cent over the financial year 2002-2003. Both Jamshyd Godrej and Adi Godrej, on their visits to our office in the past few months, have set higher goals for our branch for the forthcoming year, the gist of their directives to us being that we have a long way to go before we can rest on our laurels.
The region has an abundance of markets waiting to be tapped and the returns are guaranteed to be manifold. The neighbouring African subcontinent (from where the UAE gets a deluge of visitors and indirect buyers) seems to be the largest untapped market for our products. If we handle this right as a manufacturer with large-scale manufacturing capabilities we could have a gold mine on our hands. The African market is nascent, there is huge potential thanks to a large population, few local manufacturers, dependence on imports and a host of other factors in our favour.
In the Middle East region, we still have markets like Syria, Libya, Iraq, Jordan, Egypt, Iran and Lebanon. Saudi Arabia has just opened up to our products. Additionally, we are aiming for larger market shares in our independent product portfolios in the markets we currently operate in, with a direct focus on the UAE market where we have set up a Branch, with three of us being responsible solely for the UAE market.
Those of us dealing with markets other than the UAE will be trying our best to achieve our targets this year with a vertical as well as lateral coverage of the region. With our Mumbai and Chennai operations to fall back on for designing and manufacturing capabilities, it only looks like an uphill task. We will have to put in extra efforts, as manufacturers from India are yet to break the taboo associated with products that bear the stamp ďMade in India?
On another level, the idea of converting our activities to a stocking-cum-sales hub for the entire Middle East operation was mooted not long ago. We hope that a decision on this will be taken soon as having adequate stocks will boost our sales figures. This will also ensure that we do not lose orders for small/large quantities based on the delivery time factor. Often, we have lost business because of the 6 to 10 weeks that it takes to manufacture and ship out our products from Mumbai or Chennai.
Places of interest in Dubai
The Burj Al Arab is the only hotel of its kind in the world. Built at a cost of $400 million, it is the ultimate in luxury. It is built on its own man-made private island away from the mainland in the form of a shipís sail. Room tariffs start at AED 2,800 (Rs. 35,000) per night and a suite can cost nearly four times that amount. You can book your room by credit card on the Net and ask for a limousine service from the airport or land at the helipad built on the highest floor of the hotel, depending on your preferred mode of travel.
The Jumeirah hotel development company, which owns the Burj Al Arab, has built two additional hotels alongside the BAA on the Jumeirah beachfront. When viewed from the mainland, one hotel is constructed in the form of a ship, the second has been built in the shape of a sea wave, and the BAA brings up the rear as the sail of a boat. Innovative thinking! To complement the BAA, an underwater restaurant is being built that will be completely submerged, where you can enjoy the best of cuisine, especially seafood. If you are interested in visiting this landmark, the hotel charges AED 200 (Rs. 2,500) for a round trip.
We had organised a Dealer Meet and new product training session for our FIG and SED dealers, OFIS & Zayani. Our newly appointed dealer OFIS has two of our former colleagues, Sanjiv Vaidya (ex-Chennai Branch) and Firdaus Irani (ex-Mumbai Branch), on its staff. We hope to achieve a greater penetration of the market with our products and with their support on products that have not yet broken ground in the UAE market.
The Dealer Meet was a success, even though it was our first. We were fortunate to have the support of Naresh Tahiliani, General Manager - FIG, who was in town during the Meet.