Al Futtaim is a name that the Middle East is familiar with. It has had a 70 year long engagement across various key industries all across the region and beyond. Its efforts have resulted in making the conglomerate a household name in the Middle East and a brand name to be reckoned with elsewhere in the world.
Blaze to brilliance
One of the most successful and respected conglomerates in the Middle-East, the group began operations in the 1930s and has thus garnered an experience of over 70 years of operations and expansion that has taken place in terms of industries as well as geographical region. The company was originally established as a trading unit and from there it expanded operations into sectors as diverse as retail, financial services, automotive, engineering and technologies among others. The company utilised the oil boom that the Gulf went through and showed tremendous growth in the following two decades. It built a strong foundation in the first three decades of its operations and now has tall structures in the form of diversified companies that operate under its leadership. It has invested in a variety of joint ventures that help provide it an entryway into other segments to facilitate further growth. It underwent structural change in the year 2000 where the top management decided to divide sectors and now Mr. Abdulla Al Futtaim controls the automotive and retail segment and Mr. Majid Al Futtaim controlling the real estate segment. The company however believes that a hands off approach works best with conglomerates as big as itself, and lets its various businesses operate as autonomous units operating in synergy with each other.
Along with the quality of operations, it is the size and the diversity of the organization that gives it an edge over all the other players in the market. The company has 65 companies operating in the eight major sectors of the economy, namely, Automotives, retail, finance, electronics engineering and technology, general services, real estate, alongside the corporate sector and its overseas businesses as well as significant interests in other industries through its joint ventures. It is a leader in all the segments it operates in. The Toyota, Lexus, Volvo, Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, and RAM franchises in the UAE are controlled and run by the group with extreme efficiency and diligence. Some of the most successful and lucrative businesses like IKEA, Toys”R”Us and Marks & Spencer’s are run by the retailing segment of the company. Understanding that such a conglomerate cannot be run and kept efficient through micromanagement, the company has a more decentralised structure where the companies behave as units of a whole that have their own area of expertise. The Al-Futtaim group is one of the biggest and the best employers in the UAE and has contributed to the economic wellbeing of the nation in more ways than one.
Engagement that Enthralls
In the first half of 2013, the Al Futtaim group has already achieved a 10% increase in revenues, declaring that it has recorded well over Dh11 billion in this time short amount of time. The numbers often speak for themselves when it comes to this influential and profitable group; speculation often points to the group’s diversification as a key element in their success. In Dubai alone, it has ventured into Carrefour hypermarkets as well as prestigious malls, cinemas, and supermarkets alongside residential and commercial complexes. In fact, the company has and estimated almost Dh40 billion in total assets. Mr. Abdulla Al Futtaim is recognized by Forbes in their list of influential billionaires, and estimates him to third most successful businessman in the UAE.
The group is particularly adept in strategizing its future growth, assuring its growth into a global conglomerate. Today it operates and holds a great influence in 30 countries across the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. The group is currently very active in Africa and Asia, as reported widely by business journals, and is very close to completion on large deals within the automotive sector throughout Africa as well as in construction equipment in Saudi Arabia.
Throughout its long history the group has maintained itself at the edge of innovation through sound investment in diversified fields. It has been particularly adept in surviving the recent financial crisis that has swept the globe: despite the tremendous wave of financial and political instability in the Middle East region and abroad, it is in the midst of 40 acquisitions, and since the last crisis hit, it has invested – successfully – around $500 million in acquisitions. In some of its more prestigious and ambitious endeavours, they regularly work in conjunction with influential individuals of companies like the Qatar Islamic Bank or members of the royal family.
In terms of international expansion the group is particularly excited about growth and opportunities in Africa, particularly the sub- Saharan markets where they believe great benefits can be reaped through automotive and retail investment. Growing markets with increasing potential in retail, like Kenya, are likely to serve the company as a foothold for increasing its interests and assets in the region, while allowing it to contribute to the economic and social growth of these developing nations
1. One of the most successful and respected conglomerates in the Middle-East, the Al Futaim group began operations in the 1930s.
2. The Toyota, lexus, Volvo, Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, and RAM franchises in the UAE are controlled and run by the group.
3. It underwent structural change in the year 2000 where the top management decided to divide sectors and now Mr. Abdulla Al Futtaim controls the automotive and retail segment and Mr. Majid Al Futtaim controlling the real estate segment.