HP EMEA boss praises Middle East sales potential

Francesco Serafini, managing director at HP EMEA, believes that the Middle East market represents a huge growth opportunity. Serafini has outlined ambitious plans for continued investment and greater focus in the Middle East market to drive HP’s growth.

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By  Stuart Wilson in Berlin Published  April 25, 2007

Francesco Serafini, managing director at HP EMEA, believes that the Middle East market represents a huge growth opportunity for the vendor. Serafini has outlined ambitious plans for continued investment and greater focus in the Middle East market to drive HP’s growth. Speaking to ITP at HP’s Technology@Work customer event in Berlin, Serafini – who paid a visit to Saudi Arabia recently – outlined the vendor’s strategy for building up its Middle East operation. “We have now split the ISE theatre into two regions and this means that the Middle East market will become much more visible. We will be able to increase our focus on the region,” said Serafini. “We want to make even more investment in the region.” “We decided to split ISE now because of the sheer size of the business. When you look at HP’s portfolio – from the consumer to the midmarket and right through to the enterprise level – there is huge growth potential in the Middle East,” he added. “It is difficult to manage a region made up of 50 to 60 individual countries. What we have learnt is that when we have a direct presence in a specific country, the business really starts to boom,” Serafini continued. “Individually, these countries are not doing billions of dollars but you can quickly move sales up to say US$60m in a given country. When you multiply that by the number of countries that we are talking about, the scale of the opportunity becomes clear.” Serafini claims that there is strong commitment within HP to drive the expansion of the Middle East operation. “There is a great deal of support,” he declared. “Everyone talks about Brazil, Russia, China and India – the BRIC countries. In the Middle East, Africa and Central and Eastern Europe, there is a combined population of 1.5 billion people – that’s the same as China. In the overall Middle East and Africa region the GDP is rising, IT investment is climbing, consumer spending power is growing and PC penetration is low – there is a huge potential return when you look at the longer term outlook over five or six years.” HP is also keen to tap into Saudi Arabia’s appetite for IT spending. The vendor has already transformed its KSA operation into a fully-fledged in-country unit and is now looking to boost the availability of related skills and services within the Kingdom. “We are trying to increase the investment in Saudi Arabia – specifically in the service area,” explained Serafini. “Selling products is fine and we have some excellent channel partners in Saudi Arabia, but we now need much better service capability and that is something that we are working on.” Serafini views skills availability and channel education as vital foundations for HP’s growth plan. He is also keen on developing the talent of local management teams within the region. “We want local management but we need to make sure that we develop and retain the best people,” he said. With Joseph Hanania stepping down from his role as managing director of HP Middle East, Serafini claims that the succession strategy is progressing well. The successor to Hanania for the HP Middle East hot seat should be confirmed in early May. “The replacement will be announced soon and we are working on that,” commented Serafini. “Joseph made a big impact and he was very important in driving the development of HP in the region. There is an internal candidate for the post. Do I want to tell you who it is? No, not right now.”

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