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MFE Formwork Technology eyes three UAE contracts with Arabtec

As part of its overarching strategy to re-establish its footprint in the UAE, MFE Formwork Technology has revealed that it is discussing three formwork contracts with Arabtec

MFE Formwork Technologys Jim Robinson (left) and Steven Magowan Robinson (right) are discussing three UAE contracts with Arabtec.
MFE Formwork Technologys Jim Robinson (left) and Steven Magowan Robinson (right) are discussing three UAE contracts with Arabtec.

MFE Formwork Technology has revealed that it is negotiating the possibility of three contracts with UAE-headquartered contracting giant, Arabtec.

The discussions form part of the Malaysia-headquartered formwork company’s overarching strategy to re-establish its footprint in the UAE construction market.

Commenting during a Construction Week roundtable discussion on the Middle East’s formwork sector, Jim Robinson, group chief executive officer of the MFE Group of Companies, said that Arabtec was one of the firm’s key UAE partners prior to the 2008/09 economic recession.

Robinson predicted that MFE Formwork Technology would recommence activities in the UAE within the coming 12 months.

ROUNDTABLE: Experts discuss the Middle East’s formwork sector

“Before 2008, MFE Formwork technology was quite busy in the UAE, with Arabtec being its biggest client,” Robinson told Construction Week. “We’ve since found it quite difficult to [re-enter] in any sort of size. That’s why we’re here; to [grow our market share].

“We’re talking to Arabtec about three projects right now, and they have a stock of formwork that can be reused,” he revealed. “Hopefully, by this time next year, we’ll be up and running in the UAE again.”

Speaking during the same roundtable discussion, Steven Magowan Robinson, business development manager for the Middle East region at MFE Formwork Technology, said that his team was working to grow its market share in the Emirates, despite the ultra-competitive nature of the country’s formwork segment.

“There are now so many competitors in the market, even in our niche section [of residential developments,]” he said. “When we’re pricing projects, we’re up against five or six aluminium formwork companies, which [wasn’t the case] in the past. But there’s really only Dubai in the UAE that is [pushing ahead with high volumes of] building work. The market is tight for us all. The days of big margins are long gone, and will probably never return.

“We’re now focussing on the reusability of our products,” he added. “Our formwork system can be [customised] from project to project, so we’re concentrating on that. Arabtec, for example, has a large stock of formwork, so we’re now trying to convince them – and, hopefully, we’ve already convinced them – to reuse the stock for their future projects and make savings.”

MFE Formwork Technology employs approximately 1,750 people, and its Malaysian manufacturing facility is producing 80,000m2 of aluminium formwork per day. In the Middle East, the firm has supported projects in the UAE, Oman, Egypt, and Libya. Its primary focus is the residential segment, but it has also provided systems for commercial and hospitality projects.

For full coverage of the roundtable, including perspectives from Meva KHK, RMD Kwikform, and Trimble Buildings, check out issue 674 of Construction Week.

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