Services and Trade Co, which will celebrate 40 years of its operations in 2016, is in the process of transforming itself into a global player with an innovative delivery-centric business approach, says Vice-Chairman, Waqas Al Adawi, in an interview to Oommen John P.
Can you tell us about Services and Trade Co (S&T)’s Oman operations?
S&T is one of the largest contracting companies headquartered in Oman. Having started as a small carpentry shop in 1977, the company has since expanded exponentially and has executed landmark projects for hotels, palaces, villas, high-end residential and commercial projects. Currently, S&T is undertaking around double digit number of projects in Oman across the fit out and construction segment. We do quite a lot of work in Oman for various government and private entities. Today, the company’s turnover is in excess of $200 mn and employs nearly 4,000 people. S&T’s state-of-the-art fully integrated joinery production factory, spread over 25,000 sq. metres, is located in Muscat. It has the capacity and capability to undertake huge volumes of specialist joinery works, fit-outs, furniture manufacturing and case goods. Some of the key landmark projects which the company executed in Oman are Al Bustan Palace Hotel, Alila Jabal Akhdar Resort Hotel, Royal Opera House and Salalah Touristic and Commercial Complex.
Which are the prestigious projects in Oman?
Last year, we handed over Alila to Omran as a sub-contract in terms of joinery finishes. Currently, we are building the MoD Pension Funds’Anantara Hotel in Jabal Al Akhdar. S&T is also executing a fit-out project for Salalah airport along with various packages in Muscat International Airport which includes the prestigious Duty Free fit-out.
Can you tell us about S&T’s international operations?
S&T is a diversified group with main areas of businesses in interiors and contracting, information technology, real estate, procurement and hospitality, marble and mining, ICT, healthcare, trading and FMCG distribution. S&T offers the industry’s most comprehensive range of products and is one-of-its kind turn-key interiors and contracting solution provider. Our multi-disciplinary team of both local and international experts and skilled workforce are our pillars of strength.
S&T Interiors & Contracting, currently operates across the globe with offices in United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, United Kingdom, France, Italy, India, Sri Lanka and Brunei. We have executed landmark projects for hotels, palaces, villas, high-end residential and commercial projects.
What are the Group’s proposed investments in the coming years?
Our investments in the coming years will be more focused on joint venture partnerships rather than intensive capital investments to expand the current infrastructure required across the contracting and interiors segment. So it’s a focused investment in expanding our project management and engineering capability to be able to scale the business on a global basis. We will soon announce a JV at the Hotel Show in Dubai with an Italian fit-out company based in Venice. Over the past 18 months, we have seen our international operations expand. Currently, 65 per cent of our operations are local and 35 per cent international. But with the current order booking and economic scenario, the next couple of years could see a considerable change in the ratios.
What are the challenges facing companies such as yours?
We believe that our people and systems form the pillars of our business. The constant challenge is finding the right person for the right job at all levels of our operations.
The oil price slide is slowly but surely being felt. If there is a slowdown on award of projects, companies which have a healthy order book, may be comfortable over the short term. However, the net effect on the contracting segment will be dwindling new orders that will come into effect over the next 12 to 18 months which will in turn pose a challenge over the long term across the industry. As an organisation we need to always work towards improving our internal systems and procedures to achieve cost efficiencies and deliver all our projects to the satisfaction of our clients.
Is S&T embarking on a new brand identity?
The company is in the process of transforming itself into a global company with an innovative delivery-centric business approach.
This path of change has already started with the launch of a new brand identity for S&T Interiors and Contracting, which is in sync with our belief to take the organisation ahead and become a leading global brand. Today, as we face the dynamic digital generation, we are getting ready for building S&T of the future.
S&T’s vision for the next five years?
We aspire to be one of the top five global brands in our industry, to greatly enhance competitiveness, and be well-positioned to tap into newer markets. Through the use of modern technology and practical creativity we aim to deliver true value engineering for all our clients and position ourselves to become the preferred contractor of choice.