Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group on the lookout for potential acquisitions

Exclusive: UAE conglomerate aims to boost revenue by as much as 15% next year, group chief executive says

Group chief executive Easa Al Gurg believes 2023 will be a good year for the business. Antonie Robertson / The National
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Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group, one of the oldest UAE family businesses, is on the lookout for companies to acquire as part of its growth plans.

“We have evaluated different opportunities for acquisition locally here, as well as some in Saudi Arabia,” group chief executive Easa Al Gurg, who is the grandson of the founder, told The National.

“But we would like to study these in depth to ensure that whatever asset we acquire is properly analysed before taking the plunge.”

Established in 1960 by Easa Saleh Al Gurg, the group's businesses span several sectors including lifestyle and retail, construction, industry and property.

Better Life, Chattels and More, Al Gurg Living, Scientechnic, Gulf Metal Foundry and Al Gurg Automation and Controls are some of the group's companies.

With 27 companies in its portfolio, the conglomerate has set up a “ very interesting framework for the next few years … a vision 2025", which mainly focuses on empowerment, diversity and inclusion, Mr Al Gurg said.

“The idea was to make sure that the organisation and the company focus on empowering its people and leadership team while creating opportunities to create sustainable growth," he said.

“Apart from that, [we] also look at how we can diversify within the business, be it in the organised business sectors that the group operates in or the sectors that we can actually find the right fit based on our expertise."

The group has set up long-standing joint ventures with companies such as Siemens, Unilever and more recently with Links Insurance Brokers.

It is also investing in its e-commerce platforms as online sales pick up following the coronavirus pandemic, as well as in building retail shops and showrooms.

The group has set a revenue growth target of 10 per cent to 15 per cent next year, after a 15 per cent to 20 per cent increase over the past two years, on the back of expanding operations and as the UAE economy continues to recover from Covid-19, Mr Al Gurg said.

He expects the growth trajectory to extend into 2023 and believes it will be a “good year”.

“There are excellent opportunities coming up and very viable projects which are being launched in the UAE, that will support our growth,” Mr Al Gurg said.

“There are some businesses, in which we have already invested in the past few years, these are now starting to generate healthy returns,” he said.

A slowing global economy and fears of a recession, which the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank have warned of, are not expected to affect the local and regional market or dent the company's growth.

The UAE has “always been able to come out of challenging times in the global markets as champions … this is one thing that gives us as companies within the UAE a lot of confidence”, Mr Al Gurg said.

The UAE economy is set to grow about 7.6 per cent this year, after an expansion of 3.8 per cent in 2021, the highest in 11 years, driven by both oil and non-oil sectors, according to the latest estimates by the UAE Central Bank.

Emirates NBD forecasts that the country's' economy will expand 7 per cent in 2022, while First Abu Dhabi Bank projects a 6.7 per cent expansion, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank expects growth of 6.5 per cent and the IMF sees output above 6 per cent.

In the property sector, Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group is currently working on five projects, mostly in the commercial segment.

Three projects have already been launched while one is going through an approval process and another is still being evaluated.

“A small to medium size project would cost us around Dh150 [million] to Dh200 million ($41 million to $54 million)," Mr Al Gurg said.

"These are the ballpark figures, but the important factor is that all of these are self-funded. We do not depend on any external funding to take care of such developments."

The company has no plans to go public or tap bond markets to raise funding as its balance sheet is "sturdy", he said.

The group currently employs 3,700 people and expects the headcount to increase to 4,500 next year as it expands its business.

“The UAE has been very supportive of family businesses which have made tangible contributions to our national economy, as their origins and growth have been in conjunction with the progress of the UAE,” Mr Al Gurg said.

This year, the Emirates launched a programme to double the contribution of family owned businesses to the nation's gross domestic product to $320 billion by 2032, by preparing them for the future economy.

It also plans to introduce a new law next month to support the growth of family businesses in the country, the Ministry of Economy said last month.

Updated: December 29, 2022, 5:49 AM