Jordan's Fine branches out into nutrition supplements business

Exclusive: The company, which produces consumer paper products and masks, has set 'very aggressive' growth targets for the coming years, chief executive says

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES. 02 AUGUST 2018. Interview with CEO of Fine Hygienic Holding, James Michael Lafferty. (Photo: Antonie Robertson/The National) Journalist: Alkesh Sharma. Section: Business.
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Jordan’s Fine Hygienic Holding is branching out into the nutrition supplements business as it looks to build its wellness segment as part of a five-year growth strategy, its chief executive said.

The company has set aggressive growth targets and expects its wellness business, together with masks and sanitary operations, to account for about half of its revenue. The other half will be driven by the company’s core paper business, James Lafferty told The National.

“We have accelerated targets because we have now entered 100 per cent into wellness space with nutritional supplements and we have a couple of products already launched,” he said.

The company now has three pillars: consumer papers; masks, gloves and disinfection products, and wellness.

“We have a whole new pillar … so we have very, very aggressive growth targets for the coming years,” he said.

Within wellness, Fine has soft launched two products – Motiva Neuro Booster that has shown to improve cognitive function in severe Alzheimer’s patients and Motiva Immuno Booster – in the UAE.

It expects to achieve regulatory approval from other jurisdictions to be able to formally launch them across the region.

The supplements are produced in Food and Drug Administration approved facilities in the US. However, Fine wants to shift production to the Mena region within a couple of years, Mr Lafferty said.

“We have a third nutritional supplement coming in about a month and it’s very exciting,” he said. “We expect tremendous growth.”

Founded in 1958, Fine is majority-owned by Jordan’s Nuqul Group. In 2015, Standard Chartered Private Equity led a consortium of companies to invest in a minority stake worth $175m.

The pandemic boosted the company's rollout of products, including masks and its line of long-duration sanitisers in markets across the Mena region and beyond.

Fundamentals of its core business pushed the company in 2020 to record revenue, which was also boosted by the sale of PPE and disinfection products. However, 2021 was slightly below the 2020 peak as demand for masks dropped.

“We always had a good core business and we got the whole masks and disinfection business on top of that,” Mr Lafferty said. “2021 was a continued strong paper business, [but] there was less demand for masks and disinfection [products].”

We have accelerated targets because we have now entered 100 per cent into wellness space with nutritional supplements and we have a couple of products already launched
James Lafferty, CEO, Fine Hygienic Holding

Fine’s paper business, which includes products from toilet and kitchen rolls to facial tissues and sanitary wipes, is growing at a steady pace, as “it’s a predictable business” and “Covid-19 did not have an impact” on it, he said.

Fine has a long-term goal to top $1 billion in sales a year, Mr Lafferty told The National in December 2020. The company had surpassed its $75m in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) target for that financial year. However, he declined to give revenue or Ebitda details for 2021.

The company is still evaluating plans to list its shares with investment banks. However, it is “not in a hurry” and does not need to raise capital from equity markets. Fine will take the listing decision at the “right time”, he said.

Fine, which has invested about Dh450m ($122.6m) in the UAE market over the years, including a paper mill in Abu Dhabi, is bullish on business prospects in the Arab world’s second-largest economy and will keep on investing there, he said.

The company has recently expanded its offices in Dubai as business grows.

In 2020, Fine announced plans to invest about $100m to set up its sixth paper mill in the Mena region. But, it is yet to make a decision on the location and wants to complete a thorough study before it commits a large sum to setting up a new facility, Mr Lafferty said.

Updated: January 15, 2022, 4:30 AM