5 minutes with: Bishoy Azmy, CEO, ASGC

Bishoy Azmy, CEO of Al Shafar General Contracting (ASGC) talks to Construction Week about their presence in the Middle East and the challenges that they have overcome

Bishoy Azmy, CEO of Al Shafar General Contracting (ASGC).
Bishoy Azmy, CEO of Al Shafar General Contracting (ASGC).

1. How do you describe your presence in the Middle East?

Our brand and reputation in the Middle East are the result of our efforts to ensure that client relationships are entirely central to what we do.

Our sustained growth comes from the strength of these client relationships and our industry reputation, built over more than quarter of a century since our company was founded.

In our home market of the UAE, we have built a sizeable client base, but we are also expanding into other major markets in the region, such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

2. Who are your competitors? How you differ from them?

It is difficult to describe our competitor landscape in a concise manner, as we compete with a range of businesses depending on the type of service that is rendered.

As a business in a competitive market, we focus on attracting and retaining strong and experienced talent across our business and at all levels.

As a result, our corporate culture is committed to employee development, creating strong loyalty amongst our employees and an embedded family atmosphere throughout the entire company.

Our vertically integrated network allows for further streamlining of the construction process, resulting in cost benefits for the client and increased operating efficiencies within the group.

Additionally, our business was one of the first construction companies within the UAE to be awarded the ISO 9001 Quality Management System Accreditation, ISO 14001 Environmental Management System and OHSAS 18001 Health & Safety Management System Accreditation.

3. Please name some of the projects you are involved with currently. Kindly provide me with the construction updates on the same.

2014 was a strong year for us characterised by the completion of several projects and significant contract wins. In 2014, we successfully completed in our capacity as a main contractor and delivered projects like Waldorf Astoria, Bay Square, Hyatt Place Hotel and Dubai Airport Expansion Phase 3.

We are also the main contractor on the following ongoing projects:

• City Walk Development
• Bluewaters Residential Buildings
• Union Museum – An $132m (AED488m) contract from the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), which entails the building of eight distinct sections, each corresponding to specific historical periods or themes, in addition to all supporting facilities.
• The Onyx – In April 2015, ASGC announced the successful completion of all structural construction work on The Onyx development. The Onyx is expected to be completed by the fourth quarter of 2015; meanwhile, apartments and offices are currently on sale.
• Marina Bloom Abu Dhabi - a mixed-use development featuring a five-star hotel, 57 executive serviced apartments, as well as waterfront retail areas.
• ADNOC Guest House – $42.4m (AED156m) project with ADNOC to build a 206-room guest house and supporting facilities in Al Ruwais, with expected completion by 2016
• Al Hosn Gas Quashwira Compound – $44.6m (AED164m) contract with Al Hosn Gas to construct a compound and residential accommodation complex in Qusahwira, with expected completion by 2016
• Nestle factory building in Dubai World central

4. Name some of the projects that you are looking at in the pipeline? Any mergers or acquisitions that the company has planned?

ASGC maintains a steady pipeline of upcoming projects and is currently in the final stages of contracting several new major projects, which will be announced at a later date.

Furthermore, in line with our diversification strategy, we are capitalizing on sector opportunities across the region and are continuing to broaden our business and construction expertise.

In the year ahead, we will also look to enter into strategic alliances and joint ventures with partners who can add value by providing additional expertise, technical competence or local knowledge.

5. What are the strengths that you want to talk about with regards to the company?

We have earned a reputation for delivering high-quality and iconic projects both on time and within budget.

In addition, as part of our business, we are also able to leverage our construction products and services division. The division comprises of five subsidiaries that collectively provide MEP services and steel structure, ready-mix concrete and pre-cast products, as well as interior fit-outs.

The vertically-integrated nature of our group also encompasses a workforce of approximately 10,000 staff, as well as an extensive ASGC owned asset base.

Supplying our own equipment and dedicated staff enables us to closely monitor our project costs and expenses, which in turn gives ASGC a competitive advantage.

6. As a construction company, what are the challenges that you face?

The industry, in general, is experiencing an upward pressure on the price of raw materials, as well as demand side uncertainty.

Furthermore, acquiring skilled human resources has always been a challenge for regional contractors. Despite these industry-wide challenges, we feel well insulated from potential industry disturbances as we enjoy an ample project pipeline and a consistently low staff turnover.

7. What are the company’s future expansion plans for 2015?

We are placed in the year ahead to take advantage of significant business opportunities that exist both within the UAE and across the wider region.

Our growth momentum continues as we access new and diversified sectors and industries that accelerate our expansion not only within the UAE, but also within select and dynamic markets across the region.

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