Fujitsu Siemens picks Jebel Ali for assembly plant

Fujitsu Siemens has launched a Jebel Ali Free Zone assembly facility. The European IT vendor has partnered with PWC Logistics to set up the assembly plant, which is capable of producing 100,000 business desktop PCs a year.

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By  Stuart Wilson Published  March 20, 2006

Fujitsu Siemens has launched a Jebel Ali Free Zone assembly facility. The European IT vendor has partnered with PWC Logistics to set up the assembly plant, which is capable of producing 100,000 business desktop PCs a year. The company had also considered locating the assembly facility in Egypt before eventually deciding on the UAE. “We have been thinking about this for one year,” said Bernd Bischoff, president and CEO at Fujitsu Siemens. “The decision was finally taken for Dubai as the Egyptian government had been pulling back — so there was a little delay. But I think it is not too late; it is a good time to start here and we are optimistic that it will help us to continue our good growth in this region.” Desktop PCs are scheduled to roll off the new assembly line at the beginning of April. Bischoff expects the facility to produce between 40,000 and 50,000 desktops during its first year of operation. Rapid delivery and configuration flexibility were both primary drivers behind Fujitsu Siemens’ decision to finally launch the plant. The vendor claims that its partnership with PWC Logistics will allow it to cut lead times for the delivery of business-focused desktop PCs to large account customers and corporate resellers across the region. The new facility will also allow Middle East customers to take greater advantage of Fujitsu Siemens' build-to-order capabilities through its Made4You configuration solution. “This build-to-order solution is one of the company’s strongest selling points and by including this feature at our assembly plant, we will be in a position to offer our regional customers considerable flexibility in terms of their device configurations within very reasonable delivery times,” said Habib Bouchrara, VP Middle East, Africa and Turkey at Fujitsu Siemens. The Jebel Ali facility is modelled on Fujitsu Siemens’ award winning Augsburg production facility in Germany and houses the same machinery, operating procedures, methodology and quality control as found at the European operation. PWC Logistics assumes responsibility for the delivery of components from Germany to the new plant and will also manage the transportation of finished goods throughout the Middle East. “What we get is a much higher flexibility and faster response time and I think that it is a real competitive advantage that we can ship to our customers within one week, compared to five to six weeks before,” added Bischoff. Fujitsu Siemens Middle East and Africa revenues surged 51% in its last fiscal year to US$103m and Bischoff expects growth rates of between 35% and 40% in fiscal 2006. Fujitsu Siemens’ decision to locate its assembly facility within the Jebel Ali Free Zone is a marked departure from the policy pursued by other A-brand vendors in the region. Many have instead preferred to concentrate their efforts on in-country operations not located within a free zone. HP has a well-established facility in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, while Acer also recently entered into an assembly partnership in the Kingdom alongside Advanced Electronics Company (AEC). According to rival vendors, Fujitsu Siemens’ decision to locate its facility within Jebel Ali Free Zone means that finished products destined for GCC countries will be subject to a 5% import duty the moment they leave the free zone. Many large public sector tenders in the Middle East — especially in Saudi Arabia — also favour PC vendors physically assembling product in-country.

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