Oman’s Most Trusted Brands: Interview with Rajeev Ranjan Singh, CEO of Al Maha Ceramics
Al Maha Ceramics Company was named as Oman’s Most Trusted Brand in the tiles category at the Oman’s Most Trusted Brand Awards ceremony held at Crowne Plaza, Oman Convenient & Exhibition Centre in December 2019.
In an exclusive interview with Muscat Daily, Rajeev Ranjan Singh, CEO of Al Maha Ceramics, spoke about Al Maha’s brand strengths in the Omani market and discussed the company’s product portfolio, production and future business outlook.
Al Maha Ceramics has been voted by consumers as Oman’s Most Trusted Brand in tiles category. In your view, what strengths have helped the company win over consumer trust?
It’s the vision of Al Maha Ceramics to provide innovative and world-class products to help customers realise their dreams. Al Maha Ceramics has been the pioneer in launching differentiated products and consistently keeps itself ahead of the curve. We keep improving the quality and design of products, thereby creating industry benchmarks. Al Maha Ceramics is fast and flexible, able to grasp opportunities in the fast-changing world. Our biggest strength is that we are always transparent and fair to our customers, suppliers, shareholders and employees in all our dealings. We strive to be a well-managed company with good profitability for our shareholders.
What are the different types of tiles and the latest ceramic solutions that Al Maha Ceramics offers to customers in the Gulf region?
Earlier tiles were majorly used as decorative products but now as tiles are changing, consumer preferences are evolving manifold. Now tiles are functionally as well as aesthetically advanced. Today, we have tiles which specialise in various aspects such as slip-resistance for bathrooms, anti-bacterial properties, temperature reducing outdoors especially in hotter regions and scratch-resistant properties that are suitable for high traffic areas. These specific properties of tiles make them a necessity without compromising on the visual appeal they offer.
Al Maha Ceramics has a varied product portfolio in ceramics and porcelain tiles. We are one of a few companies in the world to have an antibacterial and air cleaning tile, Iprotect, made with the titanium ion based technologies with zero cytotoxicity, Barid i.e. Cool tiles for hotter climates like the GCC which reflects sunlight and keeps homes and surfaces cooler by up to 20 per cent thereby saving energy cost and helping conservation, polished ceramics tiles with mirror-like surfaces, high variation wood design tiles that help save forests and in turn to conserve nature.
When we talk about tiles and related products, do the design, style and innovation matter significantly in the Omani market?
Tiles are like the fashion industry, similarly, tile designs keep changing, updating and upgrading. This is a necessity of the trade, to be creative and innovative. The tiles companies should be abreast of this changing trend to keep the end-users engaged. Al Maha Ceramics has always been a trendsetter in the tiles industry.
Can you tell about the company’s current production capacity and any expansion plan for the future?
Currently, the annual production capacity of Al Maha Ceramics is 6mn sqm. We keep on investing in newer technologies to optimise the production process and improve productivity. Globally more and more companies are opting OEMs, we too have ventured with some reputed Spanish companies to complete our basket of offerings. With lesser investment and reasonable efforts we are increasing the revenues and ultimately the profitability of the company.
Tiles industry is closely related to the construction sector which witnessed a downturn in recent years. How do you address the challenges from stiff competition and economic slowdown?
Al Maha Ceramics has been at the forefront of innovation and value-added product launches. We always try to bring in newer and newer products that leave our competitors far behind us, be it antibacterial tiles, solar reflective tiles, polished ceramic tiles, digital printed tiles, etc. Al Maha Ceramics has never shied away from in investing in newer technologies, advancements and creativity in designs. This has helped us not only becoming the most profitable company compared to its peers but also to steer clear in current economic volatility and to hold our ground against the stiff competition.
What is your outlook for Oman’s tiles industry in the medium-term and which sectors do you think will drive growth?
The consistent growth in regional populace and the need for quality housing will keep up the momentum of building material industry.
And, sooner or later the oil prices will stabilise leading to an improved government spending, which in turn fuel the Gulf economies and create demand. About 40 per cent of our production is exported to more than 15 countries including neighboring states; this market potential clubbed with demand for affordable quality tiles in war-ravaged regions like Yemen, Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere is expected to drive the regional building material sector for next few years.