Brits buoyant about Gulf biz ops
Confidence remains in wider GCC market
British construction product suppliers say they are confident about business opportunities in the Gulf and are looking forward to working in the region in the future.
Following a report by UK trade body the Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE), saying UK contractors were owed $330m in unpaid bills in the UAE, product suppliers said that for the most part, cash is still coming in and that debts are a global problem affecting all markets.
“The Gulf is still a great opportunity for us. We’re not worried about payment issues and we’re actively looking to move into the region,” said Aspen Pumps export sales director Bernard Leach.
Many UK firms say they are finding Dubai to be a less lucrative market than in previous years but the wider GCC remains promising.
“We’ve been doing business in the region for ten years, and of course, the recession has had an impact but this is still a key market for us,” said Balmoral group public relations manager Steve Gibb. “Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia are still busy markets for us.”
Gibb said that his company had not suffered any payment issues from the region but that in any case, unpaid bills were a problem faced by suppliers wherever they were operating.
SPE International CEO and group chairman Tony Mansfield echoed Gibbs’ sentiments. “As a whole, the general Middle East market is ok,” he said. “Dubai is a good centralised point from which to do business.” He added that his company had just signed deals to supply equipment to firms in Saudi Arabia.
Some contractors, however, reported problems with late payment. “We haven’t had any problems with bad debt at the moment, although we have had some slow payers. We’re still getting paid though,” said Flowflex GM Peter Burt. “There are fewer business opportunities here than there used to but we’re still confident.”