CAIRO: DuPont, a company established in 1802 with specializations in chemistry, agriculture and safety, approached the local real estate market with its newest innovations at the annual Interbuild Egypt conference.
“It is a major event for the construction industry in Egypt if not in the Arab world, Khaled El-Dessouky, country Manager of DuPont Egypt, told Daily News Egypt on the sidelines of the event, in which DuPont participated for the third consecutive year.
DuPont’s businesses include agriculture, nutrition, bio-fuel, safety and protection to name a few.
El-Dessouky told Daily News Egypt that DuPont contributes to sustainable development in different sectors, and described how blue chips companies – DuPont is a Fortune 500 company – manage in the eye of the storm.
At the conference it presented some of its latest innovations, whether they had been introduced to the market before or were brand new.
The Corian stone, an engineered stone which would be alternative to marble or granite, was introduced. According to El-Dessouky, “it gives more flexibility, more colors, with competitive prices.
Egyptian designers and architects are already using this stone, including famous kitchen designer Amr Helmy.
“When we introduce new products, we tend to do it with household names, like Amr Helmy, Zaha Hadid, Kareem Rasheed, El-Dessouky said.
Zodiaq is another DuPont engineered stone. A higher grade than Corian, this stone is based on Quartz and could be used in flooring, bathrooms and kitchens. “These stones give more flexibility, hygiene and colors. They have lighter weight, environment-friendly and require easer maintenance. They are scratch-free and are better for mass-productions, for instance hospital or hotels, El-Dessouky added.
The financial crisis
Automotives and construction, two sectors to which DuPont heavily contributes, have been seriously hit by the financial crisis.
This has affected DuPont considerably, El-Dessouky noted, since DuPont is one of the major world suppliers for the big brand names in both industries, including General Motors, Chryslers, Ford, VW and BMW.
Thus a new strategy has become imperative for the company.
DuPont has been facing the recession in the US and EU markets that led it to shift its strategy to focus more on emerging markets, especially Egypt and North Africa.
DuPont established its Cairo office in 2000, just before the economic reform process started to accelerate in 2004, when Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif was appointed.
“It was the right decision, said El-Dessouky, “Over the past few years Egypt has maintained a 7 percent GDP growth. Even with the financial crisis, Egypt is targeting 3.5 percent growth . one of highest growth rates in all DuPont’s markets.
DuPont is not the first global company to follow this strategy; many companies have been directing their expansion plans to emerging markets, which only means that the competition is fierce. So what would distinguish DuPont from its competitors?
“The products, says El-Dessouky, “as well Research and Development (R&D), which has been expanding annually.
DuPont invested $1.3-1.4 billion in R& D, and had $30 billion annual turn over in 2008. Despite the crisis DuPont has achieved 50 percent growth in Egypt, and El-Dessouky is optimistic enough to expect the same rate for 2009.
Aside from the recession currently taking place in the US and Europe, El-Dessouky argues that the financial crisis has another face: the positive impact on places like Egypt. “The focus and shift to the high growth markets (Egypt, North Africa GCC countries) is unprecedented to the company, he said.
DuPont Egypt is now conducting workshops and market research for most of the businesses it contributes to in Egypt, the Middle East and North Africa, in order to meet the expansion plans of the emerging markets.
“We are not planning to increase the staff number – 21 in Egypt, 23 in Dubai – instead we are loading them with more work, El-Dessouky said.
Geographic expansion in North Africa was also on the agenda, but was modified to take place through production expansions rather than geographically. Meanwhile, DuPont has country-based consultants in Algeria since 2007 and is exploring the Libyan market.
One main challenge for DuPont is guaranteeing a certain level of development in the industry so the company could appropriately approach and introduce its products and innovations. At this level “[we] go to clients to convince them to make some kind of investment to upgrade the production line or a product, said El-Dessouky.
For the future DuPont Egypt is working to synergize the work between its offices in Cairo and the GCC, “to try to standardize our efforts to enhance DuPont s presence in this region. It is the time when we have to capitalize on the chances given by top management to redeploy resources . in case we need to do medium to long-term investment, we have to be backed with the right studies and the right market opportunities, he added.