Four years from now, Oman Refco would be indigenously manufacturing all its products here in Oman itself. As of now, more than 88 per cent of the company’s products are manufactured in the Sultanate, while the remaining 12 per cent comes from UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, says CEO, Youssef Ezzikhe, in an interview to David Solomon
He spoke at length about the achievements of Oman Refco’s 44-year-old journey to become one of the market leaders in the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry.
To a question about the diversity and range of the company’s distinctive product line-up, Ezzikhe explains that Oman Refco has been a listed company ever since it was established more than four decades ago and is being traded on the stock market ever since.
Elaborating further he says, “our products can be put into eight category heads: 1.Carbonated soft drinks, 2.Water, 3. Salty Snacks, 4.sweet snacks, 5. Juices and 6. Ice-creams, 7. Energy drink, 8, malt beverages”. “We do have competitors in each category where we operate and we believe in a competitive environment that benefits the consumer and the industry as well. Carbonated soft drinks contribute to 75 per cent of our total gross revenue sales”.
Asked about the performance of products in the Foods segment, Ezzikhe replied. “Several of our products in this segment are doing very well, says. Because of the increased awareness about health and wellness among consumers, our oat-based biscuits and cookies, oats, soups, chips as well as long-life bakery items like Swiss rolls, cupcakes, pound cakes, and croissants figure high on people’s shopping lists”.
He also stresses that Topfruit, a leading product in the juices segment, is an exclusively indigenous product. Here is a sampling of other questions to which he gave detailed and elaborate replies:
What would you attribute as the main reasons for your success in achieving 1.6 per cent growth in sales volumes and 0.8 per cent in revenue?
Having wide distribution network with 13000+ customers across Sultanate and well connected with Omani citizens & residents, enable us to quickly understand changing consumer needs and gives Oman Refco to cater the products their choice over 4 decades of market presence.
While expanding our range, we have also expanded regionally where our juice brand has received high appreciation from consumers as a testament of the high quality, high taste, and all natural components.
Oman Refco is geared towards a performance culture that was initiated during the past years. We operate with 6 core values that are Quality, integrity, respect, customer care, commitment and collaborate, the 950 + employees are the main drivers of the company performance under the wise direction of the board of directors.
Would you care to share the core elements of your business strategy with our readers?
The vision of our company is to be the leader in Consumer Packaged Goodssector, by being among the top 3 brands in every category where we operate, while contributing to the welfare of our Customers, Employees, through high quality products, supportive customer service and operational excellence.
We strongly believe in the loyalty of consumers in Oman toward high quality products with strong emotional connections. Mountain Dew brand is one example. Oman Refco has invested into three strategic pillars:
- Manufacturing and Distribution facilities where we strive to maintain our highest standards in every aspect. In this regard, Oman Refco has received several quality and service awards from internationally recognised institution such as AIBIand PepsiCo.
- People where we are selectively hiring, nurturing and developing high talents. HSE is a high priority for the organization to protect our employees and the environment where we operate.
- Systems that enable a digital platform to strengthen a team’s approach in our actions. We are proud to share that are our objective of paper less environment is rapidly progressing.
Throughout the year, the company has embarked in different programs aiming to delight our consumers and beyond that the communities where we operate. Our CSR programs are among the most widely diverse across all Governorates of the Sultanate. We are proud to be the partners of the World Water Day, Muscat festival, Dhofar festival, Muscat eat”, Spartan race, Muscat marathon, Jebel shams challenge and many more.
Keeping in mind the highly competitive environment in which you have to work and function, what steps have you taken to strengthen and diversify your product portfolio?
Our strategy has always been to leverage our international partner’s strength by being Consumer centric organisation with trade innovation where we aim to offer high quality consumer packaged goods at every day occasion for all consumer budgets.
From being a carbonated soft drinks company at its inception, the company now carries more than 6 categories where we are among the top preferred brands in the Sultanate such as Lays, Aquafina, Topfruit juice, Lipton ice tea, Quaker and many more. .
More than four decades of association with Omani culture & heritage, we have gained clear understanding of changing consumer needs and our product offering at affordable price points to help sustain and grow in such competitive market.
In view of ORC’s diverse locations how does the company maintain uniformity and cohesion in its style of functioning?
Oman Refco operates with very high business ethics coupled with core values, policies and procedures cultivated among the workforce across its 10+ locations in Sultanate of Oman.
The company operates with centralized support functions ensuring consistency in communication and employee engagement for all, coupled with continuous visits and open channel of communications with all employees.
How does the company keep to its commitment of Omanisation?
As regularly mentioned by the company, Oman Refco has always taken the lead in terms of attracting and developing Omani talents. The company participates in the major recruiting forums such the Sultan Qaboos University, and others. The Company has been instrumental to motivate and engage local work force at all levels.
Over the years, the company has showcased its model of corporate practices to nurture and retain the best local talent in the business.
In addition, the company has partnered with various government institutes for development and recruitment of Omani youth under National Training Fund. Oman Refco recently launched its first Omani Leaders programme where number of graduates were recruited and are commencing a two years leadership development programme. The company also contributes in grooming college students through yearly summer internship programs.