An old name opens doors for Ducab

Ducab, the UAE cable maker, has expanded into a new market by reviving an old name.

Andrew Shaw, the managing director of Ducab, says that optimism for the region is driving strong demand. Razan Alzayani / The National
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Ducab, the UAE cable maker, has expanded into a new market by reviving an old name.

Industry veterans in the United Kingdom will recall Flambicc, a brand of flame-resistant cable once sold by a British company that was at one time the world's largest cable maker.

The company, originally known as British Insulated Callender's Cables (BICC), shut its doors in 2000, and with it went Flambicc.

One of the foreign offshoots launched by BICC, Ducab took over the rights to the company's name and its brands, but in its core market of the GCC it went by its local name. But when trying to market its own flame-resistant cables to British customers, it found that the old name was the best way to get in the door.

"The brand had become a bit dusty over time and it needed a bit of polishing," said Andrew Shaw, the managing director of Ducab. "It's more about getting references and being exposed to the most demanding customers, because then you can sell to industry specialists in the UK, and you are on a very fast track."

Although the volume of British contracts in complex markets such as oil and gas are small, they bring Ducab experience that it hopes will reap rewards in the growing Arabian Gulf market.

In some ways, the strategy mirrors that of Borouge, an Abu Dhabi-Austrian joint venture. Like Ducab, Borouge is too small to compete on scale with the top GCC producers in its field - Riyadh Cables and Sabic. So Borouge has instead positioned itself as a specialised manufacturer, catering to many of the same top-end clients as its Austrian co-owner Borealis.

Ducab, whose ownership is equally split between the governments of Abu Dhabi and Dubai, is due to open a new cable factory later this year. At existing plants, the time between order and delivery is shrinking, meaning that although its order book has remained steady in the past year, it expects to report increased sales for 2012 later this year.

"Our strategy is first of all we are optimistic about the UAE and the GCC," said Mr Shaw. "We're seeing strong demand. What's driving it is increased optimism. Of course utilities don't work on optimism. They're seeing continued growth."

Contracts expected later this year include an expansion at Takreer, New York University Abu Dhabi and the Dubai airport expansion. It expects to make more cables for oil and gas, which has grown to 10 to 15 per cent of its portfolio. It is also selling infrastructure cables to suppliers in Libya, Iraq and East Africa.

"We had a very strong year for oil and gas, particularly for Abu Dhabi and Kuwait," said Mr Shaw. "This year we expect the oil and gas business to pick up on the second half of the year."

Experience with companies such as Hyundai Heavy Industries and Samsung has also helped, he added.

"You build a reputation and a relationship with these large contractors, many of them Korean," said Mr Shaw. "And if you start to build those relationships you can support them on project after project. Cables are just a small part of their worry list."