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fmME Supplier spotlight: Amit Sharma, Spark Elec.

An increasingly standardised fm sector is driving better procurement strategies in the gcc, Amit Sharma, managing director of Spark Electrical, tells fmME

INTERVIEWS, Business, Facilities Management, Materials

What is your operational presence in the GCC, and what has motivated your expansion decisions?

We have been active in the industry for more than 40 years and as a UAE-based firm, our operational presence was very much national and limited to the UAE, where we cover Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, and the Northern emirates.

However, in the recent past, we have started supplying our products to other GCC countries such as Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain. This expansion decision was mainly driven by the operational presence of our retail clients in each of these countries.

Which regional FM or property management firms do you work with?

Our major FM clients include Imdaad, Emrill, Idama, Servu, Farnek, Al Shirawi, Khidmah, Inaya, Berkeley FM, Deyaar FM, Transguard Group, Mace Macro, and MAB FM. We also work with many small-sized FM companies, especially since their market share has exploded of late.

How has demand from the GCC’s FM market changed over the years?

The biggest change is that FM companies have been operating with a more strategic and planned approach due to increased awareness and operator training in the market. Requirements for minimum levels of stock and goods have also been reduced, due to which most small and large facility stores now choose to operate on a back-to-back stock procurement system.

This method ensures that the amount of capital invested in maintaining stock is reduced. Overall, the demand for experienced FM suppliers has increased in the market, and this is a need Spark Electrical is well-poised to fulfil.

What are FM and building operator companies looking for when they approach your company?

In the last couple of years, there has been a conscious effort within the industry to save energy costs. Nowadays, more and more FM service providers and building operators are consistently looking for solutions to reduce their facilities’ overall energy demand and consumption.

They approach us in the pursuit of smart, effective, and economical solutions such as, for instance, to change their conventional lighting, water heating or air conditioning systems to a green product or alternative. Eventually, this results in the demand for LED lighting, solar water heaters, and hybrid solar air-conditioners.

Which current tech trends are your product strategies based on?

With the brands that we distribute, we’ve seen increased focus on ensuring that the design, feel, and look of the product is updated. For instance, the lighting industry is now working on solutions with a minimalist approach, very much in line with current trends.

What is the level of standardisation in the regional FM market?

As the FM industry matures, the emphasis on professionalism is increasing like never before. We’re finding that FM companies are now more systematic with their operator training and certification processes as well.

How was 2016 for your company and what are your expectations for 2017?

I like to think of 2016 as our year of evolution. From the outset, our emphasis was on reducing operational costs, which is quite a task to achieve. With that implemented, we managed to extend better pricing and services to our clients, resulting in 4% year-on-year growth for us. Our focus in 2017 remains on further reducing costs as the industry continues in a competitive spirit.

We have plans to add products to our portfolio in line with industry demands. We also aim to reach out to more FM companies and extend our services to installation and after-sales as well.

What is a key trend dominating the contemporary FM market?

Due to the continuous efforts of FM companies to reduce operating costs and with their increased emphasis on time management, we have noticed more and more FM companies choosing to place their procurement orders on a rate contract basis.

This means they enter a contract with the supplier to procure goods on yearly basis at an agreed price, thus ensuring best rates and services, and reducing the financial constraints placed by managing stocks.

Where do you see the Middle East’s FM market in the next five years?

We are confident that the industry will continue to grow, bearing in mind the developments in the pipeline in the UAE and across the GCC. We also expect the regional FM sector to become more competitive in the years to come.

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