Fagerhult aims to double Middle East turnover by 2020

Traditionally strong in education and healthcare, Fagerhult is targeting new sectors and new geographic locations as the Group targets growth in the Middle East. Andy Brister catches up with John Carruthers, Fagerhult’s regional MD, to find out what’s in store.

Fagerhult is extending its reach in the Middle East to new countries and broadening the sectors it targets as the Group aims to double turnover in the region by 2020.

The Group has set its sights on sectors such as retail and transportation for its growth, as well as moving beyond the UAE and Qatar into Saudi, Egypt, Bahrain and wider into North Africa and Iran.

Education has proved to be a strong market for Fagerhult in the Middle East, including ongoing projects with the GEMS brand of schools built in the region.

“Since establishing our Middle East operation eight years or so ago, we’ve concentrated on the education and healthcare sectors and have mainly operated in the UAE and Qatar,” explains John Carruthers, managing director at Fagerhult Middle East and North Africa. “While the group as a whole sees 27% of sales in the retail sector, we haven’t been in that market in the Middle East, so it’s time to push into that sector.”

A specialist retail team has been brought in, with early success already including top names such as Ted Baker, Nike, The Kooples and Matalan. Carruthers sees the move into retail as a gateway into other lucrative sectors. “Transportation will be another key target area for us,” he says. “There is a huge amount of rail and metro work right across the region, for example in Qatar and Saudi.”

While the group’s Fagerhult and Whitecroft brands are the ones most widely seen across the region, the 2020 strategy will aim to increase exposure among all nine of the Group’s brand names. “Designplan, for example, is a perfect fit for the transportation sector,” says Carruthers.

Controls will be another target area. “We want to offer complete solutions to our customers,” he says. “The region has been slow to adopt controls but we are noticing that customers are much more switched on to energy use, costs and green issues and now have a greater understanding of costs of ownership.” Carruthers argues that tougher standards in the region, as seen in Abu Dhabi for example, are it making easier for the quality end of the market to close the door on lower spec products.

The Dubai 2020 World Expo is already causing ripples, with many specifications starting to come through. The trick, as ever, will be getting the building team to stick to spec. “One of the big issues that we are experiencing here is that MEP consultants, who traditionally would be responsible for both the design and supervision phases, are losing the supervision phase of the works. That makes it harder to hold on to specifications. We work hard to protect them by becoming a lot more involved with developers, end users and the people who will ultimately be working in or looking after that building at the end of the cycle.”

Carruthers is looking forward to the inaugural LuxLive Middle East show in Abu Dhabi, where the team will be on hand to discuss new developments. “The message will be: we are here, we do lots of different things, we have a big team, we are technically competent and we want to talk to customers about complete project solutions.”

Fagerhult is sponsoring the Lux Arena at LuxLive Middle East, where you can hear two days of inspirational talks by some of the biggest names in the region and from around the world.

LuxLive Middle East takes place on Wednesday 13 April and Thursday 14 April 2016 at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre. To register for a free pass, visit www.luxlive.ae

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