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Mon 9 Jun 2008 04:00 AM

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Mars fights 'aggressive' rivalry

Food manufacturer emerges as only FMCG victor at ceremony before embarking on huge expansion programme for Dubai production facility.

The general manager of Mars GCC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Mars, Incorporated, has revealed plans to raise the production capacity at its Dubai factory to 50,000 tonnes annually.

Ahmed Bayoumi told Retail News the company achieved a 25,000 tonne output in 2007, and Saudi Arabia is currently placed as its strongest market in the region, with the UAE hot on its heels.

He said the company has become "more active," despite its 20% share of the confectionery market, to cope with the influx of "aggressive players including Hershey's and Ferrero Group, and we have a continued focus on raising the standards of our own operation and accelerating the pace of innovation.

"The local players are recruiting talent from international players so the standards are rising very fast. Overall there are challenges related to leap times of serving the trade, imported from far away countries," he commented.

The manufacturer recently clinched the 2007 Dubai Quality Award (DQA) in recognition of the company's organisational excellence, and Ahmed holds responsibility for six GCC countries and 50,000 points of distribution over a 250-strong team.

"Winning this award is an independent endorsement of the high standards to which we are committed and consistently achieve.

The award, presented by his Highness Maktoum Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, celebrates the success of organisations demonstrating sustained improvement in the categories Leadership, People, Policy and Strategy, and Partnership and Resources.

The DQA is based on the Excellence Model of the European foundation for Quality Management (EFQM), which has been successfully applied in private and public sector organizations since 1992.

According to Bayoumi, Mars' involvement in the Gallup organisation survey CE11 has bolstered its levels of customer engagement by measuring customer service to partners and suppliers, to "improve the relationship between ourselves and our customers in the trade, and the level of partnership, trust, pride, and commitment.

"We're trying to engage in a closer dialogue with our customers and improve the service through initiatives including a pull system and customised offerings, to achieve a much higher level of responsiveness," he said.

Mars works with Gulf Food Trade in the UAE, Arabian Trading Supplies in Saudi Arabia, BMMI in Bahrain, Gulf Trading and Refrigerating Co. in Kuwait, W.J. Towell & Co. in Oman, and Ali Bin Ali Establishment in Qatar.

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