Reem Batteries and Power Appliances Company is currently in a consolidation mode and is working on improving its cost competitiveness. The company is aggressively pursuing renewable energy offerings for Oman and some African countries, says CEO S Gopalan
Can you highlight the contribution of Reem Batteries to the manufacturing sector in Oman?
As one of the pioneers in medium scale manufacturing in Oman, Reem Batteries has been a trendsetter in Oman. The project established in the eighties was one of the first in Oman’s first industrial estate, Rusayl. It was also one of the few non-oil based companies, which focused boldly on exports and became a flag bearer of Omani quality across the world, right up to Europe and South America. We also pioneered on setting up internal technical training programmes in Arabic thereby achieving significantly higher Omanisation than what was mandatory even 20 years ago. Finally, we were the first non-oil manufacturing entity in Oman to receive certification under ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001 standards at the same time.
What drives the company’s growth?
Our capability to design batteries for every type of vehicle manufactured around the globe made us the battery company with the widest product range in the world. This coupled with aggressive export efforts and good quality at affordable prices drives the company’s growth. We are among the few battery companies who supply to military forces of several countries with NATO specified batteries.
What are the challenges facing the manufacturing sector?
Rising cost structure with poor productivity are the major challenges. The recent steep increase in power tariffs coupled with high wages and mandatory annual increases, is making Omani manufacturing sector uncompetitive in international markets. Unfortunately, due to the small domestic market size, Oman’s manufacturing companies have to necessarily depend on exports without which they will not be viable. Even then, the capacities are much smaller than some of the large plants in East Asia and China who enjoy economies of scale.
How can manufacturing companies stay competitive in the current economic environment?
Manufacturing companies will have to invest in technology upgradation, automation and innovation to stay competitive, something which is easier said than done!
What are the innovations planned by the company to remain competitive?
We are working on R & D based solutions to redesign our products to make them cost competitive while not compromising on quality. We are also working on methods improvement to drive productivity and finally on keeping overheads under control. We do enjoy tremendous goodwill across international and domestic markets and so if we can remain competitive growth will follow automatically.
What are the expansion plans planned by the company?
We are currently in a consolidation mode and working on improving our cost competitiveness. Therefore, we have no immediate plans for expansion in our batteries operation. However in our ‘Power Business Solutions Group’ which offers UPS and DC systems, we are aggressively pursuing renewable energy offerings for Oman and some African countries.