CAIRO: Nissan sees great potential in the Egyptian automotive market and expects a lot of opportunity for growth in industrial activities with Egyptian players. Nissan’s investment in its factory and distribution network has been delivering promising results so far. Nissan is now manufacturing three models locally with Japanese quality. Nissan Egypt is one of the major industrial partners to contribute to the country’s industrial growth over the past five years.Mitsuji Sato, Chairman of Nissan Egypt, and Mohamed Gamal Eldin, senior manager, PR and Communication Marketing, talked to Daily News Egypt on the side of AUTOMECH Akhbar Al-Youm automotive exhibition 2009.
Daily News Egypt: How long has Nissan existed in the Egyptian market?Mitsuji Sato: We started operating in Egypt in 2004. Last year, we did a very good job in the first half of the year. Our financial year start in April and ends in March; between March and September 2008, we did a great job. Unfortunately we started suffering some global affects [of the crisis] and the total market in Egypt started declining. The first thing was sales; it wasn’t up to my expectation at all in terms of business environment, but in total, the [whole] fiscal year -which is between April  to March  – we made quit reasonable profits and . also good market share.
What is Nissan’s market share?Nissan currently has between 6.3 and 6.5 percent of the market, and we are ranked the fourth player in the market.
Who is topping Nissan and who is behind it?Toyota, Hyundai and Chevrolet in the [Egyptian Market].
Can you translate this into figures?In the first half of the year, we made more than 30 percent increase, and in the second half we saw 15 percent decrease compared to the same period of the pervious year. But year-to-year, we did almost the same volume of sales as the previous year.
Then, how do you evaluate the last couple of months? Mohamed Gamal Eldin: It’s not fair to compare the last two month between April and June of 2009 to the same period last year, or even comparing any month in 2009 with any month in 2008 [due to the different circumstances].Mitsuji Sato: The figures are not available yet.
How do you cope with the global crisis?Mitsuji Soto: This market crisis affected the whole automotive industry. For me, I’m in control of it . we even conduct brilliant marketing strategy in this kind of environment. That’s why we decided to be cautious.
Do you mean following a wait-and-see-policy?No, the wait-and-see-policy is dangerous; what we are doing is optimizing our inventory, and also we are very much keen on controlling expenses.
Did you lay off part of your staff, cut the advertisement?Not only the ads; [we did that] in all expenses. We are careful selecting which expenses should be cut. Otherwise in this kind of crisis, our [budget] will not work as it should be, but we are very cautions with our expense.
Some hold the opinion that the worse is behind in this crisis. So is Nissan ready for after-crisis time?We are still cautious. [We are] not too much optimistic, because nobody knows when this crisis will be over. I’m hoping that this crisis will not continue forever, but as a company I cannot be very optimistic, because we have many people [working for us], many families. [600 people work for Nissan Egypt].
Before the crisis, did you have any expansion plans that you were forced to put on hold?Yes we had expansion plans, particularly in Sixth of October City, but we froze these plans. . But we are ready to invest more whenever the crisis is over, and start growing.
How do you rank the Egyptian market among other Middle East region markets?In terms of volume or units, I’m not quit sure of our ranking . But approximately in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia is the biggest, second is UAE, and then Egypt, that’s why Nissan made a big decision in 2004 to come over here.
Between 2004 and now what was the best business year for Nissan in Egypt?For me almost all are the same, but 2008 was quite up and down, which was very interesting for me, so I would say 2008 was an interesting year.