Maintaining an Edge

Amr Hassan, general manager IPG at HP Middle East, explains how the vendor takes such a broad portfolio to market and intends to drive forward in 2006 through innovation

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By  Stuart Wilson Published  April 2, 2006

|~|hassanweb200.jpg|~|Amr Hassan, general manager IPG at HP Middle East|~|Amr Hassan, general manager IPG at HP Middle East, explains how the vendor takes such a broad product portfolio to market and intends to keep its market advantage in 2006 through constant innovation.

CME: You’ve just visited the HP Labs in California. Were you impressed by what you saw in terms of R&D relating to the IPG division?

Amr Hassan: I was very proud. The HP Invent slogan is not just written, it is something that customers see every day through HP’s constant product innovation. We are defining the future of digital photography, printing and home entertainment. As a customer-centric company and a market leader, we have a massive responsibility to innovate. It is why we invest billions in R&D every year.

CME: Given the portfolio breadth of IPG, how do you prioritise what you take to market in the Middle East?

Amr Hassan: The Middle East is still an emerging market and HP IPG is in growth mode. I see the market transforming and customers realising that the products we have are enabling them — either in the home or in the office. Our ability to deliver solutions is combined with strong after-sales service, and in the business sector, an understanding of the application environment the IPG hardware is being integrated into.

CME: So where are the future growth opportunities in the region for IPG?

Amr Hassan: When we talk about the Middle East we are growing in all customer segments — consumer, SMB and enterprise. In the consumer space the main area is digital photography and HP now delivers a complete solution of cameras, photoprinters and supplies. This offers an ease of use that the customers really appreciate. In the business space the opportunity is around solutions that offer increased productivity. The Middle East is transforming fast and we have a great deal to give in areas such as large format printers and multifunction devices. We are not only protecting our market share we are also growing it.

CME: How easy is it to set up go-to-market models for such a diverse product portfolio?

Amr Hassan: From the very beginning we have been clear about our distribution strategy and how we use this channel to build reach. While HP will maintain a direct dialogue with customers the fulfilment happens through the channel. Given our 25 years experience, we have built many capabilities into the channel model and we are now in a situation where the channel breadth and reach is there to ensure all our products are available in their target markets. At the same time we work dynamically with consumers in the region through our presence and activities in retail stores.

CME: Where do you see the biggest opportunities geographically in the region for IPG?

Amr Hassan: I still see Saudi Arabia as the market with the largest potential for growth. When I look at what happened last year in the Kingdom I am very optimistic about our prospects across all segments — from the individual consumer through to the largest enterprise. The retail sector is booming and we also have more international retailers now operating within Saudi Arabia. There is a large population and the GDP is healthy — it is the right mix for growth. At the same time, there is also potential in the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar and Egypt for growth.

CME: Is the distribution channel in a position to capitalise on all these opportunities in the region?

Amr Hassan: We have a mix of regional distributors, which have excellent logistics capabilities, and in-country distributors that have direct interaction with the final tier resellers in their territories. All distributors also have the ability to offer significant added value. We realise that not all distributors are the same; some focus on fulfilling demand from resellers active in the consumer space while others have a clear area of expertise in serving retailers. It is all about strengthening the distribution model and that does not necessarily mean expanding it. Distributors decide their own business model and then develop the competencies that they require.

CME: Talk me through the current distributor set-up and how you manage it on an ongoing basis?

Amr Hassan: The distribution strategy is reviewed every year and we listen to feedback from resellers, retailers and customers. Changes may be required as the market evolves. For regional distributors such as Tech Data, Redington, Almasa and Emitac there has to be a clear business case for each country. In addition we have distributors operating on a sub-regional basis within the Middle East such as Aptec and Metra.

CME: Aptec now covers the GCC excluding Saudi Arabia and Metra now covers Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Is that correct?

Amr Hassan: Yes. We find out where partners are strong and can add value and that is how territories are allocated.||**||

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