Ducab, the UAE-based manufacturer of cable and wire solutions, is seeking expansion in new markets and considers Africa an exciting opportunity, says a senior company official.
Mohammed Al Mutawa, chief commercial officer, Ducab, says it is optimistic about growth on the continent in view of the economic resurgence it is witnessing and the increasing relevance of Gulf-based businesses there.
As well as Africa, Ducab products go to the GCC and the wider Middle East, other non-GCC Asian states, Europe and Australia. The company lists its top three markets as the Middle East, Africa and Europe.
The company, owned by the Investment Corporation of Dubai and Senaat of Abu Dhabi, makes high voltage cables up to 400 kV, medium voltage cables up to 33 kV, low voltage power cables, control and auxiliary cables, wiring and lead-sheathed cables, low smoke zero halogen cables, and fire resistant cables, copper rods and wires, cable components and cable accessories. It also offers a range of 60-year tested nuclear power cables, currently supplying large volumes to the Barakah Nuclear power plant being built in Abu Dhabi by Kepco for Enec. The Ducab Aluminium Company (DAC), a joint venture with Senaat that is expected to begin deliveries in 2016, will provide a range of aluminium rods and overhead conductors to meet the growing market needs.
“We are certain that DAC will cater to a new market and open new doors for us,” said Al Mutawa.
Ducab operates five facilities in the UAE with a manufacturing capability of 115,000 metal tonnes of low and high voltage cables and 110,000 tonnes of copper rod and wire per annum. Its facilities include England-based AEI Cables UK.
The most popular export range is its power transmission cables, used in large projects such as hotels and resorts and public transportation.
Ducab has noticed there is significant demand for special cables for the oil and gas industry and for MV and HV cables for GCC infrastructure projects. The company’s copper rods have India as one their biggest markets and its fire resistant cables have witnessed substantial deliveries to several markets outside the UAE including Hong Kong and UK.
Turnover in 2014 was $1.5 billion and the order intake in first-half 2015 was up 30 per cent over the corresponding period of last year.
THE QUALITY APPROACH
Commenting on Ducab’s business approach, Al Mutawa said: “Our strategy is to have a quality-assured product range that will keep us relevant to a number of growth sectors. Specialist cables are at the core of our growth strategy. We are looking at utilities, real estate and construction, oil and gas, transportation, ship building, defence and hospitality as some of the key sectors to track and supply to.
“Technologically advanced cabling solutions are one of our biggest strengths and we take keen interest in understanding our customers’ needs before offering our world-class products and services, both for local and export markets alike.
“We consider our distribution partners, resellers and retailers our partners in success, and they are instrumental in driving our growth across geographies and sectors. We ensure that they too are well looked-after, and our annual ‘Ducab Dragons’ channel promotion is well-received and similar promotions are eagerly awaited.”
The company indicated that special projects in the oil and gas, infrastructure, nuclear, ship building and marine sectors are of interest and Ducab would work on developing its product range to cater to these distinctive markets over the next couple of years. The renewables sector, including wind and solar power, also holds a special place in the company’s plans for the near future.
“Once our aluminium factory comes online, we believe that there will be significant opportunity for business to open up in new sectors such as transmission and distribution over longer distances. We will be working with key players across geographies to develop this product range, focusing on the GCC and Africa to start with initially before expanding into other territories” Al Mutawa said.
Even as the company awaits the opening of its new factory, it has already accumulated quality accolades over the past 35 years that lend it credibility. These include the ISO 9001:2000 and 14001 certifications as well as the OHSAS 18001 mark issued by BASEC (British Approval Services for Cables). Ducab’s cables are approved by the Loss Prevention Certificate Board (LPCB) and Lloyd’s Register, UK, amongst many other globally renowned agencies.
Commented Al Mutawa: “A strong focus on quality and technologically advanced solutions throughout the decades of our existence has led our products to be awarded some of the most stringent quality certifications that our industry offers. This means that our products adhere to standards as laid down by governments, industry bodies and experts worldwide. This is a primary reason for our success in a number of markets, particularly those that follow global standards. While there may be a number of suppliers that can offer products at various other price points, the fact remains that there will likely be a trade-off in terms of quality and standardisation.”
With the UAE market relatively small, the company has to set its sights further away beyond the region and into the global marketplace. Exports therefore are crucial both for income and market
Al Mutawa gave his take on what drives exports. “The key trend in the global marketplace is that customers care less about where a product is from, and more about quality and adherence to standards. This means that the typical order lifecycle has time built in for transportation. This has greatly levelled the playing field for quality manufacturers such as ourselves.
“Earlier, we may have lost out on opportunities because of our distance from the customer’s location. Our customers today, in many cases, take the time to come over to the UAE, inspect our facilities, tour some of our existing work, and then confirm the order. This underlines the fact that the global marketplace is now a reality, and this represents significant value and opportunity for customers and suppliers.
“A strong supply track record in certain sectors also emerges as a key criterion towards developing long-term supplier-vendor relationships. Ducab actively invests a lot of time and energy in nurturing long-term partnerships with its customers.”
He also touched on the challenges of doing business in overseas markets including ones arising from companies increasingly looking to source locally made products. “It is common for governments to support home-grown brands, which results in sales in other markets slowing down. Also, we have to consider market barriers such as cost, acceptance of product and so on,” Al Mutawa said.
“Political unrest in certain territories can be a challenge for business growth in the short to medium term; however, being an internationally recognised brand helps support the business once the situation changes as things settle down.”