RAK Ceramics was started by Ras Al Khaimah’s ruler, Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, in 1989 as a method for diversifying the emirate’s economy. In December 2014, Sheikh Saud sold a 30.6 % stake in the company to private equity firm Samena Capital, which came up with a three-year ‘value creation plan‘ that involved exiting several businesses it deemed to be non-core, overhauling its production operations to grow capacity and changing its brand and routes to market.
Althought the past couple of years have been tough for any company operating in the Gulf’s construction sector, RAK Ceramics has managed to keep its core revenue relatively stable . When the Saudi market, which used to be its second-biggest market for tiles, witnessed such a fall-off in demand the company has been undertaking a transformation of its operations.
Massaad said: “The most important thing we have done is the rebranding and the repositioning of the company in the market – moving into our showrooms in the UAE, our way of presenting/offering the value of our product, the integration which we’ve done. Therefore, I cannot say that the market is great in the region – or even worldwide – during this period but with the changes, the focus we have done, we succeeded gaining market share in our core market.”
The company completed a significant rebranding in late 2016, and it has spent the past two years buying out distributors in Saudi Arabia and Europe so it can take more direct control of its routes to market.
The main strategy that they have followed is differentiation, instead of following their peers with the idea of reducing its prices in order to gain or retain their market share, they decided to launch a differentiated product to maintain their quality and invest in R&D.
In addition, Massaad also argued that its spread of export markets made it “immune” to the tough market conditions that many local competitors have faced in recent years. Its latest expansion has been to India, where they have succeeded in sales.