Arabian Days

 

The UAE Branch –
A Slick Operation

The UAE Branch – A Slick Operation

From left: Kurush Shroff, Market Manager, UAE (Security Equipment Division and Locks Division), Kuwait (Office Consumer Products) and Bahrain (OCP), V. Balachandran, Market Manager, UAE (Storage Solutions Group), Vinod Bambhani, Market Manager, UAE (Material Handling Equipment Division), Pushkar Gokhale, Branch Head (Middle East operations), and Alwyn Menezes, Market Manager, UAE (Furniture and Interiors Group and Prima Division), Oman (OCP) and Qatar (OCP), outside the building which houses the Godrej, UAE Branch. Other valuable team members not in the photo are K. Balachandran, Market Manager, UAE (Material Handling Equipment Division), Shoaib Khan, Market Manager, KSA (Storage Solutions Group), and Tajuddin, Market Manager, KSA (OCP except Storage Solutions Group).

It’s true that where there is a will there is a way.

With about 100 years of collective work experience between the eight-strong UAE Branch team, it looks as if we are all set for a landmark achievement year in 2004-2005. The target figure for this year — Rs. 300 million — has been set at over 11 times the sales figures from the region in 2001-2002. The figures for the first quarter — over Rs. 70 million (PO + OB) — just about reach this giddy desired objective and it will be our aim to try to achieve both the team’s as well as personal goals.

A paradigm shift was required to make this happen and work on this began when team members started activities here in 2002. We all realised that with the handful of dealers we had in the region, we could not hope to achieve the exponential growth that was so necessary to sustain our presence in an international market. The paradigm shift was in the form of horizontal expansion to reach out to untapped markets/segments to achieve the exponential curve vital to our operation. We decided to start off by strengthening our hands.

It is interesting to note that, from the six "dealers" operating in the region until 2002, promoting the entire range of Godrej & Boyce products from six divisions, we have expanded and are today managing this sales operation with the help of 34 Channel Partners or CPs. I am not counting the direct clients of our Material Handling Equipment and Storage Solutions Group, businesses that are absolutely vital to their current set-up here. Some of these CPs are overlapping businesses, but most of them focus on either a business or a product category within a business.

We are still expanding the network and will be closing the year with a few more CPs. The premise of the whole process was that we isolate each business first, then their product categories and identify prospects from the market in these fields before zooming in and starting an operation with them. It meant a lot of legwork and coordinated efforts in each of the markets, but these seem to have finally paid off. This has even revived our decades-old goodwill, in the sense that our five initial partners — who have seen us through thick and thin and who are responsible for the goodwill that exists for our Company in this region — have seen the immense potential for themselves and have dedicated their investments and assets to increase volumes. This is making the whole process exciting and challenging.

Along with opportunities always come obstacles and the team feels that the major impediments which currently affect the G & B Group businesses sustaining the UAE Branch operation are:

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Rise in steel costs translating to higher market operating prices. As per market information, we hope to see a downward trend soon.
 
 

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Falling prices of Chinese manufactured products. The selling prices being much lower than the landed price for our dealers, competing with them is impossible unless we can revolutionise our manufacturing processes.
 
 

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Easy availability of low-grade seconds quality steel from Eastern Europe to competitive manufacturers. This enables local manufacturers who use this steel to be very competitive compared to us as they hide the blemishes inherent in this kind of steel, fine-tuning the cosmetic appearances of their products.
 
 

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Volatile behavioural tendencies and buying patterns of clients and dealers alike which makes retaining them a very difficult job. We have to constantly contend with threats that the client/dealer would switch over to other principals on the basis of better products available from the Far East at better prices.
 

In our small way, we are doing our best to make the Middle East operation cost-effective, as far as operational costs are concerned. We are running this entire operation with only the help of our invaluable and inseparable laptops, a standard inkjet printer, a standard fax machine and our mobile phones. Six of us share a 330 square feet office area in an office building in the Sharjah Airport Free Zone, with two of our team members in Saudi Arabia managing with SOHOs (Small Office Home Office). We understand that the small contributions we make every day will some day turn this operation into a full-fledged establishment, a constant source of employment for our deserving colleagues back home in India, with products that will be brands in their own right and a force to reckon with.

Our vision: Godrej in every home and office in the Middle East.

 

The Palm Islands

The salient features of the Palm Islands, Jumeirah and Jebel Ali, are:

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To be in line with the grand vision of the ruler of Dubai to attract 15 million tourists by the year 2010, thus sprucing up the topography of Dubai to make it a unique tourism oriented country in the Middle East, thereby reducing its current dependence on oil.
 

 

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On completion, the Palm Islands will be considered the Eighth Wonder of the Modern World.
 

 

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The structures will be in the form of two man-made islands in the shape of date palms.
 

 

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Each island will stretch six kilometres into the sea and will be about eight kilometres across.
 

 

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These structures will be about 25 kilometres apart and jutting into the sea.
 

 

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The unique date palm design will give maximum frontage and increase the UAE shoreline by 120 kilometres.
 

 
 

Palm Islands

 
 

A representation of the Palm Islands as they would look on completion.

 

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These islands will be visible to the naked eye from outer space.
 

 

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The cost of reclamation alone – $3 billion.
 

 

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Rocks weighing 14 million cubic metres in total are being brought in from 16 quarries in the UAE.
 

 

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Each Palm Island will have about 5,000 residents and 40 leading five-star hotels.
 

 

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Currently, 12,000 trees are being grown in a nursery in Dubai for planting on the Palm Islands.
 

 

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The world’s largest man-made dive park will be created around the base of the islands.
 

 

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Artificial reefs will be created underwater around the islands to simulate the underwater topography of famous diving destinations around the world, such as the Great Barrier Reef, the Maldives, the Cayman Islands and the Red Sea.
 

 

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To encourage treasure-hunters, one kilogram of gold bars will be regularly placed on the sea bed to make the experience worthwhile.

 

Alwyn Menezes
Godrej, UAE
 

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