Eros sheds light on its plans for expansion

The Life: Deepak Babani, chief executive of Dubai-based Eros Group, discusses his strategy for expanding the electronics and appliances business into new sectors.
Deepak Babani, the chief executive of Eros Group, is looking into businesses such as LED lighting and solar energy.
Deepak Babani, the chief executive of Eros Group, is looking into businesses such as LED lighting and solar energy.

Eros Group is a company based in Dubai that sells and distributes electronic gadgets and appliances. Deepak Babani, the chief executive, talks about his strategy for expanding the business into new sectors.

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What was your initial vision for the company when you started as chief executive back in 2002?

In 2002, when the digital advent started, we had two strong brands: Samsung and Hitachi. That's the time when we set out a vision to be the number one electronics distributor in the UAE by 2015. I think we're on the way. In 2012, we'll be number one in sales. We are at Dh2.7 billion (US$735 million) now. By next year we'll be at Dh3.5bn.

What kind of strategy have you recently taken to help reach this goal?

In order for us to grow, we don't need just one or two brands, but others. In 2009, we brought in the Chinese brand TCL. We thought: "We had a Japanese brand and a Korean brand, and now we need a Chinese brand."

Why did you feel you needed a Chinese brand in the mix?

Markets are shifting. Once upon a time the Japanese were dominating [in electronics]. Then it moved to [South] Korea. China is embracing technology very rapidly. With such a big population and large production base, they not only produce competent products but spend more money on research and design.

Since you are close to meeting your original goal, have you come up with a new vision for the company?

We realised if we have to grow at a pace of 30 to 40 per cent a year, we have to get into other areas. This year the company's board has given us a mandate to look at other areas. The first is electrical. We're looking at LED lighting and solar energy. We'll also be looking at food and beverage companies and other things like facility management.

How did you home into these specific areas?

We realise the focus on Dubai is more on tourism. We decided the areas of tourism where margin levels are decent and healthy include food and beverage, and fine dining. Facility management, where we would do electrical work and landscaping, is another area because real estate is going to start getting into a mature stage; a lot of buildings will be completed. It's an extension of our current airconditioning business, where we do installation and maintenance.

The restaurant industry is fiercely competitive in Dubai. Would you create your own or import an established brand from elsewhere?

We're looking at all the possibilities. You might have a chain in the US or London, and bring them down here. That's one concept. It's still in a study phase.

When will you start pushing into those other areas?

Over the next five to seven years. We're not in a rush because at this moment the market is not very positive, but we realise this is a time when we can start looking at new things.

nparmar@thenational.ae

Published: August 7, 2011 04:00 AM

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