Mission: Accepted

Bringing a new brand to market is always hard work. It is even more difficult for hotel suppliers in a market like Dubai, which is aggressively competitive. Shehab Al Shanti, chief executive officer of Jadara Enterprises, talks to Hotelier Middle East about successfully making a name for a new brand in the region

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By  Sarah Campbell Published  April 7, 2006

|~|Al-Shanti,-Shehab--L.jpg|~||~|If the February's Gulfood exhibition was anything to go by, hoteliers in Dubai are spoilt for choice. Over 1,700 suppliers, distributors and importers from over 50 countries were falling over themselves throughout the three-day tradeshow in the hopes of wooing new customers. Standing out from the crowd in such a competitive environment might seem like an overwhelming uphill struggle for smaller companies such as Jadara, which carries just four brands for the hotel industry. Jadara was launched in May 2005 and is, therefore, very new to the region, but Sehab Al Shanti, CEO, Jadara Enterprises, is not easily deterred. "We are hungry and the challenges are what we feed on," he insists. "The major hotels might be being serviced by well-established local distributors for now, but we are fighting to carve a name not only for our new brands, but also for Jadara as a company. "We don't have any of the inherent red tape you usually find at large distributors, so we have the time to listen to our customers’ needs," Al Shanti reasons. "At Gulfood, the feedback was that people are getting tired of the slipping standards of service at the bigger companies in the region. They are looking for quicker response times and more attention to detail. We are service oriented and have a select range of just a few fantastic products that we can really stand behind." For such a young company to have secured the exclusive Middle East distribution rights to a brand such as Vista Alegre is testament to the success of Jadara's customer satisfaction strategy, which Al Shanti believes sets the company apart from other suppliers in the region. Jadara launched the Portuguese line of fine dining porcelain at Gulfood. "We look for brands that bring a solid value proposition, and with Vista Alegre, that is what we've got," Al Shanti says. "We want to bridge the gap between pricing and quality, so we are focused on countries like Portugal and Spain, where producers are eager to open new markets and still deliver high quality brands at reasonable prices," he adds. Billing itself as 'the porcelain of kings, the king of porcelain', Vista Alegre was established in 1824 and is currently the main Portuguese producer of fine porcelain. The products can be found on the tables of Buckingham Palace, the White House, the Vatican, and in prestigious institution such as the MET Museum of New York and the Nelson Rockefeller Foundation. Such a salubrious client base is bound to impress the food and beverage managers and chefs at Dubai's top hotels, as Al Shanti points out. "This kind of endorsement speaks volumes about the product line," he says. "Vista Alegre is specially created for the needs of five-star hotels and restaurants. We believe that this type of high-quality product will be ideally suited for the Middle East market, " Al Shanti adds. Indeed, the quality of its products is a high priority for Jadara, and the Vista Alegre range is manufactured to meet demanding levels of quality. Vista Alegre produces around 15 million items a year and exports to more than 20 countries worldwide. Only pure raw materials are used in the manufacturing process and the porcelain is fired at over 1400ºC to guarantee impact resistance. The Gourmet range, within the Vista Alegre brand, was created in conjunction with internationally renowned chef, Miguel Castro e Silva. His input means that the range meets the high standards demanded by top restaurants in terms of both style and practicality. "The range is white, with sculptural forms and large plate sizes, creating a platform for the presentation of dishes," says Al Shanti. "In addition, all plates in this range have reinforced edges for durability." This type of originality is what customers in the region's hotel industry are looking for, according to Al Shanti. "Big hotels cannot afford to compromise on the quality of their offerings, but are also under strenuous budget pressures to trim costs," Al Shanti explains. "This is our niche and our value addition. Once you have a first-rate product, the most important thing to do is to complement it with dedicated service," he adds. With many hotels in Dubai facing a wait of anything up to four months after a tableware order has been placed for the goods to be delivered, Jadara is setting itself apart by slashing delivery times. "We are really concerned with the standards of responsiveness we're seeing at the moment from other distributors. For this reason we plan to have a continuous and considerable stock on hand in all the major lines we are offering," he says. "This will allow us to guarantee delivery dates of between two days and one week from the day the order is placed, throughout the whole of the Middle East." Al Shanti also plans to ensure lasting loyalty from customers, and illustrates his point with an example. "During the Gulfood exhibition, we were approached by an interior designer who was working on project on the new Palm Island. They needed products to be delivered to a client within three days. None of the other distributors they had approached had been able to oblige," Al Shanti says. "We had the product couriered to Dubai. It was here in less than 48 hours. By acting so quickly, we have won this customer forever." This was not the only success story to come out of Gulfood for Jadara: the company is still in the process of finalising the logistics of four more deals that have resulted from the show. Having successfully battled its way into the Middle East market, Al Shanti says that Jadara will now continue its expansion in earnest. "We're definitely not going to rest on our laurels. We are concentrating on Dubai at the moment, as this will be the key market for us in the region. In the future, however, we fully intend to spread our net to cover the whole of the Middle East," he says. The company is now seeking to add to its existing brands, which as well as Vista Alegre include Cutipol cutlery, Ivima glassware and TP for linens. Plans are underway to offer pots, pans and industrial stainless steel equipment. "We have demonstrated our determination already. Now we will source more top rate brands to fill out the range we offer. We will then have a more complete range and will be able to cater for all the needs of a hotel," says Al Shanti. "I believe we've got what it takes to be successful here and that things will continue to improve for us." ||**||

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