Off the beaten track
Companies look to north and sub-Saharan Africa to diversify
Africa has been dubbed as a market with particular potential by members of the interior design community. Both north and sub-Saharan Africa offer significant opportunity for companies willing to veer ‘off the beaten track’.
“My next points of interest are Morocco and Libya,” explained Wiley Jones, regional vice president, Middle East and Africa, international sales, Shaw Industries. The US-based carpeting specialist is placing particular emphasis on the northern, Arabic-speaking parts of the continent.
“I think there’s tremendous opportunity in ‘Arabic Africa’, as I call it, because there’s a tremendous amount of money there, particularly in Libya. There are some nice hotel projects coming up in that area right now,” he maintained.
Jones projects that Shaw’s strong standing in the GCC will hold it in good stead as it explores markets that, in some cases, are notoriously difficult to break into.
“They might be a little bit difficult to enter but I don’t think it’s going to be too difficult because fortunately we are a very large company and people know who we are anyway. We are already well established within the GCC so this is just a natural leap for us.
“We have already sold products in these marketplaces; we are already working on a couple of large hotel projects, in particular in Morocco and also in Libya,” Jones continued.
Also exploring new and untapped markets, Depa made moves into the Angolan market last month, with an initial contract to fit out all 202 of the guest rooms, along with public areas, at the Talatona Convention Centre Hotel in Luanda, Angola. The company’s first contract in Angola has a value of some $2.5 million.
“Depa’s strategy has always been forward-thinking and, as we did in south-east Asia, we enter markets which we identify as having significant long-term growth opportunities,” said CEO, Depa, Mohannad Sweid.
“Typically, this means entering a market when it is at an early stage of development, in order to form the right relationships and understand more about market dynamics and local working culture. After successfully undertaking an initial project in any new market, we then focus on firmly establishing our presence and selectively pursue a range of prestigious projects with clients that we have already identified as having a solid reputation and track record,” he added.
“We see Angola, a major oil producer, as a key growth market for us in the long term, due the massive transformation it has undertaken in recent years, and the government’s significant efforts to reinvest the vast revenues generated by natural resources into developing the country.
“We are also looking closely at Libya, and working on plans to enter countries which are undergoing significant economic reforms and we believe, like Angola, are politically stable and set to attract significant foreign direct investment over the coming years.”
Like Shaw, Depa has identified the strategic importance of the whole of northern Africa and has already fitted out ten luxury hotels in Egypt, including the Fairmont in Cairo and the Four Seasons in Sharm El Sheikh.
In Morocco, the company has worked on the Hyatt Regency and Golden Tulip Farah Hotel in Casablanca. Depa has also completed a turnkey project in Sudan, the Al Salam Rotana hotel.