Mar 21 2010

UAE to Lead Raised-floor Industry

SHARJAH - Floor System Company, a Sharjah-based manufacturer of raised-floor products, aims to be a world leader in the industry upon completion of a three-phased expansion plan by 2012, its Managing Director said.
The manufacturer of 100 per cent green products, deriving four-and-a-half decades of experience in the sector from its mother company Nesite in Italy looks at expanding its operations in India and China in the wake of growing demand and awareness about the advantages of raised floor in residential and commercial buildings.

"Phase one involving Dh18.2 million investment has already been completed with the inauguration of first production facility in May last year," Augusto Di Pietro told Khaleej Times on Saturday.

He said the first production line has a manufacturing capacity of 600,000 square metres of the product per annum on a single shift basis. "The state-of-the-art plant can boost production up to 1.8 million square metres annually, if required," Di Pietro said.

In response to a question, the Italian entrepreneur said his newly-established company has received tremendous response from the market, paving the way for implementing a fast track expansion plan despite the recession in global economies.

"We have 12,000 square metres raised floor sales in last quarter of 2009, although production facility operated below capacity since its inauguration in May due to low demand in the market," he said.

He said major countries are coming out of recession, consequently will have a positive impact on the region's construction and real estate sectors. "There is lot of construction activity in Abu Dhabi, and Dubai may also revive some of the mega construction projects that will generate demand for raised floor."

He said a planned Dh70 million expansion at the Hamriyah Free Zone factory in Sharjah will enable the company to become a world leader, proudly marketing a "Made in UAE" product.

Di Pietro said the ambitious project will put the UAE as an icon on the world map in the raised floor industry ahead of Europe and China.

"It will be the largest manufacturing facility in the Middle East that can also meet the demand in Middle East, Africa, South East Asia and Far East," he said.

The Italian entrepreneur said second production facility, expected to be ready by end of 2011, will boost the capacity up to 1.1 million square metres on single shift basis. "We have already launched the second phase under which 2,000 square metres shed for the warehousing of all raw materials will be completed by November."

He said the second phase costing Dh44 million will ensure up to 8,000 square metres warehousing capacity to store products before dispatch them to local and export markets.

He said third and last phase involves Dh6 million-investment to build new regional offices. "It will be the smallest phase expected to be complete by first half of 2012," he said.

Export Market

Di Pietro said Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar are the major regional markets for raised-floor industry as lot of infrastructure and construction projects are underway. He said the company is in talks to grab some big orders in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait that may absorb the full production of the factory (on single-shift basis) up to next six years.

"We have been exporting our products across the Middle East and Africa by taking the advantage of strategically-located manufacturing facility in Hamriyah Free Zone," he said.

He said China was dominating the raised-floor industry, but the company is making inroads even in the Chinese market by offering competitive price range.

"We were unable to grab the Middle East and Asian markets through our Italian manufacturing facility due to higher costs of shipments, giving Chinese competitors an undue advantage," he said adding proudly that the company now gets orders from Chinese customers just because of strategic location of its facility in the UAE.

Di Pietro is upbeat about the future of raised-floor industry and said its rising demand in Asian countries investing heavily on infrastructure and construction, may expand our manufacturing base to South East Asia.

"We may consider setting up a manufacturing facility in India if the demand persists in line our forecast for the industry," he said.

UAE-Italy Trade

Di Pietro, who is also a board member of Italian Industry and Commerce Office in the UAE, said bilateral trade between the two countries will get further boost following growing interests of Italian entrepreneurs in the UAE.

"More Italian businessmen are willing to set up manufacturing facilities, especially in Hamriyah Free Zone, to re-export their products to Middle East, Africa and other East Asian countries," he said attributing the credit to Paolo Dianisi, Italian Ambassador to the UAE.

He also appreciated the role of Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry in facilitating the Italian investors and exchanging trade and cultural delegations between the two countries.

Italy is considered the UAE's second largest partner in terms of value after Germany. Bilateral trade dropped to Dh22.5 billion last year from Dh30 billion in 2008 due to slowdown in global economies.

Di Pietro is of the view that concentrated efforts of Italian Embassy, consulate, trade commission and chamber of commerce will help regaining the past glory by boosting the bilateral trade relations this year.

By Muzaffar Rizvi

© Arab News 2010

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