With sales on the up, the company senses it has potential to make significant inroads into Middle East markets anxious to sample the quality products it makes
Agthia Group’s Consumer Business Division has announced it wishes to penetrate new export markets for its water & beverages, food and dairy categories.
“Exports continue to be strategically important for our business,” said Fasahat Beg, the division’s executive vice president. “We will look for high single-digit sales growth via the strategic market penetration of Agthia’s expanded product portfolio being manufactured in our UAE, Turkey and Egypt operations.”
Sales increased last year by 12 per cent to Dh616.6 million ($167.8 million) with net profit growing 10 per cent to Dh57.3 million.
The group’s exports involve bottled water, fruit juice (Capri Sun), frozen vegetables and tomato paste – the latter two under the Al Ain brand. Bottled water accounts for the lion’s share of the division’s export revenue, 60 per cent. Capri Sun accounts for about 22 per cent. The group also exports Al Ain natural mineral water from Turkey as well as a portfolio of tomato paste, hot chilli and fruit-based products from Egypt.
“Currently our top export market is Oman, followed closely by Bahrain and Qatar. Geographical proximity, cultural similarity, comparable consumer preferences and a well-established network are key drivers behind our success in these markets,” said Beg.
“This year, we will focus on consolidating our businesses, launching new frozen baked goods and expanding our distribution and exports of all products. 2014 was another growth year for Agthia and we are confident that 2015 will see even more positive results.
“Our plan is to significantly enlarge our footprint in Egypt, which has a large population and where we see significant potential for growth of sales. We are examining a number of options for new product categories, as well as production and distribution alternatives. We are also looking forward to expansion in Saudi Arabia – a highly dynamic and demanding market which we hope to enter later this year with a carefully planned strategy,” he added.
Headquartered in Abu Dhabi, it has operations across the Emirate, in Turkey and Egypt. It employs around 2,100 people and registered Dh 1.66 billion revenue in 2014.
Al Ain water
The division’s water portfolio is anchored by Al Ain Water, one of the leading bottled water brands in the UAE. Al Ain Water is available in PET bottles and cups; in glass bottles in both still and sparkling formats, and in large five-gallon home-delivery bottles. The water portfolio also includes Ice Crystal, a leading five-gallon home delivery water brand in the UAE, and the most recent addition of Alpin, a natural spring water sourced and bottled at Agthia’s manufacturing operation in Turkey.
In order to meet rising demand, last year Al Ain Water increased its annual production capacity from 32 million cases to 52 million.
“The bottled water market is growing at an unprecedented scale across the Middle East region, and with the UAE rapidly progressing, our new, long-term manufacturing strategy is to constantly meet rising demand,” said Beg. “We are a recognised leader in the market, and with Agthia making a total investment of approximately Dh90 million in this facility, we fully expect to increase our share of the domestic market and continue to consolidate our position.”
Al Ain Water’s state-of-the-art production facility was first in the UAE and among the first in the region to receive the FSSC 22000 certification from LRQA. The certification is the latest food safety standard based on the FSMS (Food Safety Management System) requirements and the PAS 220 (Publicly Available Specification).
The new bottling plant features one of the fastest and most highly utilised lines in the Middle East. The high-speed line from Krones, Germany produces 72,000 bottles/hour which works out to around one carton per second. The bottles and caps use 30 per cent less plastic than conventional bottles in the market thereby being easier on the environment.
The beverage portfolio consists of Capri Sun, a leading juice drink for children; Al Ain Fresh, a range of 100 per cent fresh squeezed juices, and Wow vitamin water.
The food category includes two brands, one of which is Al Ain – with a range of quality tomato paste, frozen vegetable and olive oil products. Another brand of pure natural tomato paste and hot chilli products is manufactured and distributed by Agthia’s operation in Egypt.
The Consumer Business Division recently developed within the dairy products category a range of full- and low-fat yoghurt in both plain and flavoured formats together with Petit Filous, a healthy kid’s yoghurt snack. All are manufactured, fresh on a daily basis, under the globally renowned Yoplait brand.