Qatar's FM providers share their views on market

fmME reaches out to the facilities management players of qatar for their insights on this everchanging market

ANALYSIS, Facilities Management, FmME, Qatar

Cofely Besix Mannai Facility Management

Ian Harfield, CEO of Cofely Besix FM and Director of Cofely Besix Mannai FM

fmME: How has CBM FM’s operation in Qatar changed over the last year?

Ian Harfield: 2015 has been an extremely challenging year, as CBM FM has been through some major changes to re-align itself with the ever fast moving Qatar market. Being present in a country for some time is not always the best position to be in. There are of course, the advantages of being a well-known, respected and strong company, but we are constantly being challenged by new hungry competitors who are trying to get a slice of the market.

This meant that we had to undertake a complete operational review to ensure we maintained our position as the leading facility management company, and the most well placed company to support the operational issues created by the falling oil prices as the effects cascade through the economy to the FM sector.

fmME: Were there any notable additions to your firm’s portfolio over 2015?

IH: We saw several new contracts being added to the portfolio of Facility Management delivery services, such as the iconic Burj Doha building to name one. Also in 2015 CBM FM has added some ministries, a port project and several projects in the oil & gas industry to our client portfolio.

fmME: Being present in the market, what are some of the ways that Qatar’s market is evolving?

IH: It is always interesting, when you are an established entity to see the market evolve. Since the announcement of the World Cup, Qatar has been on the watchful eye of many companies, whether in construction services or FM. Qatar has certainly became a focal point of possible opportunities, and we have seen many new international companies entering the market, as well as Qatari companies being created to anticipate the future demand.

As a result you get a natural maturing, when new entrants come to a market they bring new ideas, new service concepts, so the customer expectation rises.

fmME: What other opportunities do you believe need to be explored in order to develop the market further?

IH: Within any emerging market sector, regulation and compliance controls follow quickly behind the development. Qatar currently has some challenges securing good quality technical manpower to support the new complex buildings being built. Investment in training, development and retention of technical manpower will be key.

fmME: What is the government in Qatar currently doing to help drive development of FM?

IH: There is a whole buzz around the outsourcing concept with the Qatari Government, and we have seen some significantly large-sized tenders come out to the market from government entities. The commitment at a high level to push outsourcing, drives the development of the business sector, and businesses get the opportunity to respond and develop.

fmME: What are some of the current challenges of the market and how is CBM FM tackling these issues?

IH: Manpower is always the challenge. Managing quota’s and sourcing staff is key to CBM FM, hence we have embarked on scheme to ensure opportunities for promotion, and development of skill is focused inwardly on our existing staff. We are also bringing new staff in at lower levels with the view to train and develop them into our safe, efficient and effective working culture.

fmME: Are there any trends that are unique to Qatar, as compared to the rest of the GCC?

IH: The whole of the GCC has unique trends, but in a strange manner they are all the same, just with local twists, and it comes back to availability of manpower. A ‘new’ development that we are noticing in the Qatar market is that our clients, and also new clients are approaching CBM FM for a ‘one-stop-shop’ solution in FM service provision.

These requests even include brokerage activities. Thanks to our international experience in integrated Facility Management, we have the right answers to these requests and can show that CBM FM is the ‘one-stop-shop’ partner for Qatar and surrounding region.

EMCO, an ETA FM Company

A. Subha Reddy, Director Operations of Qatar, EMCO

fmME: What is the extent of EMCO’s operation in Qatar?

A. Subha Reddy: EMCO’s operation in Qatar have changed significantly over the past year with a direct focus and approach into an integrated facilities solution. Our objective is to be the supplier of choice who understands clients requirement and offers solutions. Client requirements have evolved and so did EMCO in the response to offering services in Qatar which clearly demonstrates the development of facilities management in this region.

fmME: What are some of the ways that you see Qatar’s FM market changing?

ASR: FM services in Qatar is fairly new and under developed, however over the past couple of years clients have started identifying the key benefits of an integrated solution specially when managing the infrastructure in dealing with upcoming event of the World Cup and Qatar Vision 2030. The need for quality and KPIs have changed the structure most FM providers used to follow. Its now more defined on how you can keep up service delivery standards while being competitive.

fmME: What are some other potential avenues that you believe could be explored to help the market further progress?

ASR: The focus to quality deliverables will assist in developing the FM market further. While the focus will continue to put pressure on the cost and bottom line, key players in Qatar should lead and demonstrate to the market international best practices.

fmME: What support is the government of Qatar offering to aid in the sector’s development?

ASR: On macro level the government of Qatar has invested significantly into non-hydrocarbon infrastructure through Qatar Investment Authority. PPP Private partnership model adopted in large scale non-hydrocarbon infrastructure projects have helped sustaining growth. Government authorities have amended key provisions in existing labor law, in addition to defining welfare schemes for large section of labor. The steps have brought in transparency in to labor management system that aims to achieve world class standards for labor welfare.

fmME: Can you highlight some of the ongoing challenges of Qatar’s market?

ASR: The operating cost remains a concern in such a competitive environment. Qatar among other GCC countries facing the similar challenge of having single service offering lower rates resulting in poor services. What we are trying to do is to maintain our service deliverables whilst controlling the supply chain and managing the overall cost on behalf of the client which eventually can lead to cost savings.

EMCO have taken the lead to implement and follow the recent provisions and changes in the existing labour law which we believe is in line with our strategy on following best practices especially when it comes to employee welfare. Obviously this comes at an additional cost but we are confident that in the long term this could result in efficiencies and demonstrate better results.

fmME: What do you see as some of the leading trends of the Qatar market.? Are they different to the rest of the region?

ASR: With investment from Government & Private sector, construction sector has undergone maximum growth in GCC. Much of growth has been focused on non-hydrocarbon sector resulting into more than 50% annual revenue.

Despite global challenges Qatar welcomed 2.93 million visitors in year 2015 that is 100,000 more than previous year. Qatar tourism authority declares target to attract 7.0 million visitors per year by year 2030. Qatar tourism vision has envisages major developments into hotel expansion by 100% over present stock.

According to industry reports 41 new hotels with 11,600 rooms are in the pipeline. By end of year 2015, Qatar has added 1.7 million sqm of retail space in shopping malls and 129,000 residential units (source: Colliers International).

fmME: How do you see the FM market in Qatar evolving over 2016?

ASR: Market is largely subdued on account of shelved & downsized projects. In coming time it is estimated that there will be growth in outsourced services across Private & Government sector with thinner revenue margin. Opportunities are visible into interior fit out projects, soft services & integrated FM services in shopping Malls, residential towers. Expanding base in market will help in retaining lead position & sustainable operating margin over the year.

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