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Mon 13 Jun 2011 01:10 PM

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Kuwait's ABC to ramp up production, eyes Iraq

Beverage firm seeks to increase fleet to meet rising Gulf demand, says senior exec

Kuwait's ABC to ramp up production, eyes Iraq

Kuwait's Arabian Beverage Co (ABC), plans to double its water production capacity to 240 million units per year to feed demand in the Gulf Arab market, and aims to penetrate the Iraqi market this year.

The company, which distributes water, juice and dairy products in the Gulf Arab region wants to increase its fleet to about 800 trucks in three years, Elie Abdo, ABC's deputy general manager for business development, said on Sunday.

ABC, owned by Kuwaiti conglomerate Bukhamseen Holding, founders of Kuwait International Bank and Abu Dhabi listed First Gulf Bank, is seeking a strong base in the region as it competes with rivals such as Kuwaiti Danish Dairy Co and Saudi's Al Marai Co.

"Currently we have around 420 distribution trucks in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar... and for the next three years we will stay focused on this region," Abdo said.

ABC entered the Iraqi market shortly after the US-led invasion in 2003, but through a different brand name and distributors based there.

"Now we plan to penetrate the Iraqi market in October this year through the ABC brand...and that operation alone could need up to 500 trucks for distribution," he said.

The Saudi market, Abdo said, consumes most of the firm's production capacity of up to 40 percent. ABC currently produces 1 billion units of juice and dairy products, and 120 million units of bottled water per year, he said.

"We want to double and even triple the production of water at our facility, but we are facing some obstacles with the licensing of industrial land here in Kuwait."

ABC had to review its plans after neighbouring Qatar won the bid to host the 2022 soccer world cup, especially that the rich Gulf Arab state does not have any local beverages producer, Abdo said.

"For sure we have to plan for it, and revise our distribution there... we want to lead the Qatari market five years from now. There is no local producer until now, so we have to take this chance."

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