By Gavin Gibbon
Dubai-based water company saw 30% jump in sales across the UAE at onset of pandemic
Sales in Mai Dubai water jumped by 30 percent in the UAE at the start of the Covid-19-enforced lockdown.
However, Alexander Van't Riet, CEO of the Dubai-based company, told Arabian Business that the initial spurt of growth has since levelled out, while Mai Dubai has felt the knock-on effects of key customers impacted by the coronavirus restrictions, particularly Emirates Airline, one of its “top ten” customers, which is only just restarting passenger flights after almost all of its fleet was grounded for nearly two months.
He explained how there has been a major shift from supplying offices, restaurants and hotels, to a more concentrated effort to deliver to homes across the country.
He said: “We saw a huge jump of around 30 percent in those last couple of weeks in March. It was crazy.
“From that, people had stocked up. But if you think about the UAE, there’s nine million people living here and if two million people all buy a bit more then you see an enormous surge. We saw that after the initial peak, people started drinking their reserves, causing a slowdown. The last month or so sales have been, if you will, levelling out to normal volumes water consumption fundamentally doesn't change per capita.”
Mai Dubai, which is wholly owned by Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), is producing up to one-and-a-half-million units (bottles and cups) of water every day. Currently the second biggest water provider in the country, the company enjoys a market share of up to 16 percent.
However, Van't Riet admitted the cancellation of events and the grounding of flights has impacted the business.
He said: “We are a key supplier for Emirates Airline. Normally we deliver to Emirates Airline several times a day, with truck loads of water. Of course, with Emirates not flying, that business has disappeared.”
He added: “I think we’re better off than most industries. We’re doing ok and most of it is a shift, but that does take a lot of effort to manage.”
Mai Dubai has grown from around 650 staff three years ago to over 1,200 today. Van't Riet said that at the start of 2020 the company was forecasting double digit sales growth and, despite the onset of the coronavirus pandemic and everything associated with it, remained confident of hitting that target.
He said: “I could see a scenario where some people will travel, but others will feel they can't so they stick around and do staycations. From a water sales perspective, you can imagine, for everybody that stays in the country, it is a litre or a litre and a half that is being consumed so… I’m an optimist at heart.”