Strategically positioned at the crossroads to Europe, Africa and the Middle East, we talk growth opportunities, sustainability and more with our Egyptian market MD Maissam Hannawi.
Business in Egypt has rebounded with strong growth in Q1 this year. Looking forward, what are two hot growth opportunities in your market and why?
Maissam: We have set very clear strategic goals which are deeply embedded in everything we do. In terms of growth, first would be the online business which, like everywhere, has boomed during the pandemic. We already launched our Zanussi webshop as we believe that D2C is the future of retail and sales have grown by substantially year-on-year. Secondly, exports from our factories in Egypt are also a great growth opportunity due to Egypt’s location and existing trade agreements with neighboring countries.
Tell us about Egyptian consumers?
Maissam: Many are very loyal consumers. Media ads and word of mouth are very important ways to reach Egyptian consumers. When deciding what brand or company to buy, they value reliability and a good aftersales service.
We have seen our Net Promoter Score for customer satisfaction almost triple since 2016. This is an outcome of years of continuous improvement – as a market leader in front loading washing machines, water heaters and single-door refrigerator – to ensure a unique experience for our customers.
You have plenty of exciting new product launches up your sleeve for 2021 including the impressive Zanussi TasteMax freestanding cooker which has already exceeded sales expectations in its first month on the market. What’s so special about the TasteMax?
Maissam: ‘WOW’ would be the right word to describe the TasteMax – a fantastic cast iron cooker with the unique ‘Kebab Shelf’ feature, auto-off safety and premium design. It’s simply a pioneer product in Egypt with exceptional performance and is an exciting new offering from the Zanussi brand.
Besides the TasteMax, we launched Zanussi new top-loading washing machine earlier in the year and more products are yet to come over the coming months.
You used to be an environmental activist so you must be very excited that Egypt’s cooker factory is the first Electrolux ‘Zero Landfill-certified site’ in the Asia Pacific, Middle East and African regions. Can you share some other local sustainability initiatives with us?
Maissam: Yes! As I used to be so engaged in climate matters, I’m really happy to work for a company where sustainability is so central to our business strategy.
In Egypt, we’re very proud of our cooker factory’s certification.
We have also implemented the ‘Say NO to plastic’ campaign at all sites in Egypt last year reducing plastic consumption by over 95% and we are aiming for 100% very soon!
Egypt recently introduced a wellbeing program to get employees moving – installing treadmills in offices, morning runs, weight loss challenge and a marathon. How are employees embracing these new wellbeing activities?
Maissam: Many colleagues are taking part in these activities. I love it when I hear a colleague say: ‘I’ve just finished my Yoga session’. Our wellbeing is more important than ever during these times.
You’re Lebanese. How is it doing business as a Lebanese in Egypt?
Maissam: This is my second time working in Egypt during my career. Lebanon and Egypt are geographically close to each other and speak the same Arabic language so there are many cultural and social similarities.
Job title: Managing Director Egypt
Based: Cairo, Egypt
Background: Joined Electrolux in 2018 after 28 years in the home appliance industry.
What is your leadership style: Transformational – passionate and energetic, stimulating positive changes, team empowerment and helping every member of the group to succeed.
ELECTROLUX IN EGYPT
No. of employees: 2,142 (including 1,331 at our three factories)
Best-selling categories: Electric water heaters, front-load washing machines, single-door refrigerators
Brands: Zanussi, Olympic, Ideal