This story is one of a five-part series titled Brands of Jordan.
What is it?
Al Nabil Food Industries Company, which was launched in Jordan more than 25 years ago, has grown to become one of the biggest producers of frozen and chilled food in the Kingdom.
How did it Start?
The company started off in Iraq in 1945, when Nabil Rassam’s family established a 500 square-meter factory. Rassam, who is today the general manager of Al Nabil Food Industries Company, started off helping out at the small facility at the young age of 12, before assuming leadership when he graduated from university.
He led the factory’s growth, which eventually reached 27,000 square meters, only for him to close it soon after and establish a 4,000 square meters factory in Jordan in 1989.
Today the factory, which is located in the King Abdullah Industrial City, has grown to reach approximately 30,000 square meters, with about 800 employees, most of whom are Jordanians. The company produces 70 tons of food products daily, from the famed range of Iraqi kubbeh, to cold cuts and various frozen chicken produce. The company has also become the main supplier of meat and chicken for international food chain restaurants such as McDonald’s, Papa Jones, and Subway in Jordan.
“We chose Jordan because between Iraq and Europe it’s located in the middle, and because of its stability. We are also satisfied with Jordan’s trade agreements with the West. Now we can export to the U.S. without taxes, we can also export to some Arab countries and others,” Rassam told Venture. He also insists the family eats the factory’s produce, which explains their keenness for high quality ingredients.
The main source of the factory’s beef comes from Australia, while the chicken comes from Brazil, dry ingredients and spices from Europe, and packaging material from Jordan.
The company’s sales are worth about $100 million each year. In 2013, the Rassam family sold a minority stake in the company to the Carlyle Group to expand further and introduce new lines. This includes a new health line and fully cooked products. Today, Rassam wants to focus on product development and customer service.
What is it?
National Paints is one of the largest paint producers in the Middle East today.
How did it Start?
National Paints was established in 1969. Michael Sayegh, chairman of the Sayegh Group and founder of National Paints, had a business mindset from a tender age and hated to study. In fact he opened his first paint factory in 1970 when he was still in his third year at university. To create the factory, Sayegh spent JD12,000 to buy used machines and raw materials from Lebanon to establish a 200-square-meter factory that distributed paint in Jordan. A few years later Sayegh started to develop his brand by upgrading his paints and acquiring the trademark and business knowhow from the company that sold them the raw material, followed by a bigger, 600-square-meter plant to produce the new line of paints.
In 1977 they penetrated the Saudi market, which is when Sayegh made his first million. Following that they established a factory in the UAE. And in 1989 he created his first raw material factory. By the early nineties the company was present in Jordan, Qatar, the UAE and Palestine, following which he started acquiring smaller paint factories in the Kingdom. They then expanded into Sudan, Oman, Romania, Holland, Kyrgyzstan, India and Iran, where they established paint factories.
“After all those years, I can say that the key factor in our business success is not producing, it is selling. And for me the skill of selling the various lines of my products made me what I am today,” Sayegh told Venture in a “How I did it” article in 2011.
Today National Paints ranks number 31 worldwide among top paints companies. They are present in 11 countries, including Egypt, Sudan, Romania, Russia, Oman, India, and the UAE. The company produces furniture paints, automotive paints, industrial and metallic paints, among others and is continuously developing new materials through their collaboration with Research and Development labs in Holland and Italy where they develop new products based on each market’s needs. The company is currently eyeing new markets to cement their position as a market leader.
What is it?
OpenSooq is an online classifieds marketplace that is well known across the region.
How did it Start?
OpenSooq was established by Salah Sharef, a Lybian American, in 2008 to cater for the Libyan market. Then in 2012 iMena invested in the company and Adey Salamin became a partner and assumed the role of the company’s CEO. The website has reached 15 million app downloads, making it one of the top downloaded regional apps of all time.
The company operates mainly within its key markets of Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Kuwait, Oman, and Iraq. OpenSooq’s websites and mobile apps allow users to browse new listings, post ads for products and services, and shop a variety of categories that include automotive, real estate, electronics, home, fashion and others. The platform also has a blue-collar jobs category where users can post ads for employment vacancies and search for job opportunities in the region.
“This feature is very important to us, especially given the region’s high youth unemployment rates,” Salamin told Venture.
The platform has achieved growth of 320 times in its core KPIs from 2012 to 2016 while generating 1.5 billion monthly page views. With that, OpenSooq is on its way to capture a big part of the estimated $1 billion classifieds market in MENA. It was one of the first businesses to join the iMENA platform when it was established. “The growth in mobile Internet and smartphone penetration in the region is changing the Arabic classifieds market, and Opensooq has been leading this transformation,” said Salamin.
According to Salamin, Opensooq is the most popular classifieds site in seven Arab countries, including Jordan, Libya, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Yemen, and Sudan. And they are number two in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, where their growth prospects lie. He added that growth prospects are not limited to geographical expansion, but is also more about vertical expansion; to focus on each category, auto, real estate, and jobs.
“The key is to offer services from A to Z and hopefully to apply a concept called ‘Sell it For Me’, which is a fully integrated service, with OpenSooq acting as an agent,” he explained.
What is it?
Pharmacy One is a local brand whose branches can be seen on almost every street around Amman. What distinguishes the brand is its flexibly to adapt to the latest developments on the global pharmaceutical scene.
How did it start?
Amjad al-Aryan, founder and CEO of Pharmacy One, started his career in the United States, which he left and headed back to the Kingdom in 2001 to establish his first pharmacy here.
Since its establishment, Pharmacy One has opened 74 branches across Jordan. In 2007, Pharmacy One opened their first branch in Saudi Arabia. Today, they own three branches in Dammam and Khobar in Saudi Arabia as well as a new branch in Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan.
According to al-Aryan, Pharmacy One is the largest in Jordan in terms of sales and number of customers. The company allows for franchising only outside of Jordan. As al-Aryan states, the rapid growth of the company was enabled thanks to customer experience and availability. However, competing on price is impossible because there will always be somebody offering lower price tags.
According to al-Aryan, Pharmacy One is different because of its human element. The design of the pharmacy can bring in a patient once, but for them to come back, they have to be impressed by the person behind the counter, he said. As a matter of fact, bringing in new services is what makes them innovative, as all of the branches are connected and patients’ profiles can thus be retrieved from any branch. Through its specialized departments Pharmacy One generates new, innovative ideas to empower and fulfill clients’ needs. One example of that is offering pharmaceutical consultancy and advice to those in need of guidance through the Drug Information Center (DIC).
Al-Aryan’s vision is for Pharmacy One to become the leading pharmacy chain in the MENA and GCC region. The company aims at continuous implementation of their values, which include the respect for individuals, integrity, teamwork, openness to new ideas, passion for extraordinary customer service, accountability, and sustainability. Sparing no effort, Pharmacy One is taking Jordan’s pharmaceutical industry to a different level, where they just inaugurated a drive-through pharmacy in Abdoun.
What is it?
Rivage is a local cosmetics producer that relies on Dead Sea minerals
How did it Start?
Rivage is a family business that was launched in 1998 and was inspired by the natural remedies presented by the Dead Sea minerals and their ability to cure different skin conditions.
Rivage’s product lines are a blend of the old and the modern; the natural Dead Sea minerals are as old as time, but they are then optimized and refined by the company’s laboratories for an ultimate home spa experience. This has resulted in a highly regarded line of products for the face and the body based on natural ingredients.
The company’s Research and Development is based in Paris, Amman and London. These laboratories are where this full range of care and treatment products that renew, detoxify and nourish the skin are engineered. The company says its products are environmentally friendly, alcohol free and have never been tested on animals. It adds that it is clinically proven and contains 12 types of bacteria in addition to one type of algae that go through a lengthy process of cleansing and manufacturing.
The company has succeeded at building a formidable market for itself well beyond Jordan. They are present across more than 23 countries, including the United States, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, China, Russia, Italy, Cyprus, and many others.
Rivage wants to be a multi-national brand. They believe they can achieve that by following international standards that meet international needs.
“We localize the brand based on each market’s needs,” said Saeed al Qasem, who is the company’s business development manager. “Our Chinese customers don’t prefer fragrances in their skin products, while in Europe they don’t use whitening products. So we cater to all of their needs.”
Research and Development is the base for the company’s natural products and al Qasem insists that what makes them unique is their formulation. He also hopes that in the future they can beat the competition coming from Israeli companies that rely on the same minerals. “What helps them is the wide network; they have banks and their government’s support, although that doesn’t necessarily mean they have a better formulation.”