Regional TrendsTopicsUAE

Packaged Success

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Being successful is quite different to enjoying success. Success is much more transient perhaps as little as repairing a plumbing leak, backing a football team or betting on a race horse. When success is down to thoughtful planning, clear strategic thinking often carried out over a long period of time under buffeting market conditions and with the rewards plain successful is the term to use and an accolade gained by Al Mansoorah Press.

The press is an important part of the Kazani group of companies, run by the Kazani brothers, Siraj and Anwar along with Anwar’s son Ali Anwar. Other companies in the group are the Kazani Trading Company, Excellent Carton Boxes and Container Industries, Prominent Printing and Publishing Company and SNZ trading Incorporated.

The early days of Al Mansoorah Press were like many start up ventures, rather modest. Siraj, currently its CEO, had after a background of being a financial manager in a printing facility in his homeland begun a business trading in importing/exporting paper in Pakistan and in 1988 opened up in the UAE. The entrepreneurial skill within Siraj’s genes quickly asserted itself and with the able support of his younger brother Anwar in 1992 they bought a rundown printing business in Sharjah called the Continental Press. This venture has grown to become one of the largest sheet fed packaging printers in the UAE and the success the brothers enjoy in the UAE says a great deal for the opportunities that exist through the laissez-faire and enlightened business policies now well established in the GCC.

It does not take a great leap of faith to accept how Siraj’s financial background, developed in association with printing allowed him to quickly grasp the idea that if you are a paper merchant, considerable value added can be gained with the product if you print on it as well. At the time of the purchase Continental Press was not in the best shape, it did have some rather useful machinery particularly – a two colour Heidelberg SORMZ, though elderly, in its day was probably the most productive sheet fed press available for producing high quality colour work. A B2 Solna and a Rotaprint made up the numbers and added a measure of versatility.

The first brand new Heidelberg

When the new owners took over, the Continental Press also received what it really required – a personality change; it became Al Mansoorah Press, named after the district in Sharjah from which it operated. By 1995, things were really beginning to move. Gone was a tired run down feel for the Kazani brothers who were enthusiastically going about building the business. They knew that service and quality would be key and how important it was to trade right across the whole community. Business was brisk and in 1995 they were off to Drupa with a well thought out shopping list. The principal buy was a brand new two colour B2 Heidelberg SORMZ and it proved to be a springboard for a wider horizon. In 1998 a 40,000 square feet plot was bought in the Sharjah industrial area and a new print facility was commissioned and in 2000 Al Mansoorah moved in and the opportunity was taken to add a two colour B1 Lithrone.

Not bad for beginnings, but to be fair this was good time to be in business almost anywhere in the world; the dark clouds of 2008 were not even visible. The inner strength of a business shows up when things are tough. 2008–10 was a baptism of fire for almost all businesses. But the financial crisis became a catalyst for the way business is done today. The decimation of the printing industry in the US and Europe and anywhere else where cheap credit was dominant suggests that those who survived already had their house in order.


Targeting lucrative Dubai market

The way Al Mansoorah Press and its related companies have continued to grow and mature is testimony of how there is much more to the Kazani group’s success than riding on the crest of a business boom. The changes 2008 wrought is described very well by Anwar who says: “Back in the 90’s there was hardly any competition, but now the competition is deadly and we have to be thinking constantly of new ways to do business.” The overviews that followed the change of market conditions prompted the decision to open an additional venture in Dubai. This is now up and running as Prominent Printing and Publishing Company and is established in new premises at the Dubai Investment Park (DIP). Ali says: “We now have a more direct access to the lucrative Dubai market, where there is a greater demand for luxury packaging.“ A six colour Heidelberg CD has been installed replete with UV varnishing. Ali beams when he says: “this press enables us to print and perform UV coating in one pass and adds significantly to our productivity and flexibility,” CTP is provided by a new Heidelberg Suprasetter able to churn out hundreds of plates monthly. He adds: “It’s all part of our strategy to stay competitive and attract new customers.

 “We are proud of our loyal customers and the repeat orders this loyalty gives, but we must also build new relationships and bring in new ideas, which in turn benefits all our customers both existing and new.”

Raj Sekhar, Heidelberg’s account manager sees the wisdom of this strategy. He has known Anwar and Siraj throughout this time and they are now close friends. He says: “The Kazanis are very down to earth, genuine entrepreneurs with long term objectives, and aim for slow but steady growth.” Raj adds: “I am impressed with the high ethics and moral principles that govern the way they do business.  The Kazanis definitely have a hands on approach to how the businesses are run, and it is not hard to see why the group has enjoyed success when others may have struggled.”

Standing back a little and taking a hardnosed appraisal of the nature of packaging print  and the way economics play a part, brings to the fore some other significant factors at play behind the group’s success.

One factor is down to the overall economics of printing. For most commercial sheet fed printers with runs of say up to 10,000 the average value of the paper can be around 25-35% of the total charge to the customer. As the runs increase which they invariably do with packaging print, the percentage represented by the value of the paper component can increase dramatically, while other percentage costs such as repro fall dramatically. Another way of looking at it could be that if you make a mistake or print the job wrongly or poorly, you lose big time. Clearly being able to source stock globally  and through wisely arranging indent contracts, Al Mansoorah have gained an advantage over printers who are obliged to use additional middle men. Having a wide, well serviced customer base avoids having all the eggs in one or two baskets, customers receive a quality product on time that is highly valued and thus ensuring repeat business.

A Winning Formula 

Anwar believes in the importance of skilled staff proud of what they do and with a love for their job should not be discounted – it is an absolute must. Giving clear instructions and operating with a well structured agenda is needed for the staff at Al Mansoorah and Prominent Printing and Publishing read a little the United Nations. This may not be all that unusual for the Gulf region, but when Siraj was asked if he has in place staff training programs he said: “No, we hire skilled staff right from the beginning. Apart from those from the Indian sub continent, others are from the Middle East, Egypt and other African countries.” English is the common tongue and diversity of origins provides considerable benefits. He points out: “They learn from each other which ultimately is good for them and we enjoy loyalty and very low staff turnover.”

Not only have the family made sure they employ quality staff of the highest order, there is another element for their success. The brothers have been pretty savvy on both the choice of equipment they have invested and its timing. Heidelberg’s Raj Sekhar captures the essence of the decision making at Al Mansoorah Press when he says: “The brothers work closely on decision making, are very polite and sometimes appear as if not in urgency, but they have never failed to grab any opportunity the market has presented.”

Much of the investment has been influenced by the way market conditions operate in the UAE. It has until the last couple of years been very price sensitive and this has meant Al Mansoorah Press having to have the best equipment to handle the forces acting in its sector of the market. With a monthly turnover of stock running between 600 and 1,000 tonnes, listing the equipment required to process stock at this level could be exhaustive. To get a flavour though of how Al Mansoorah serves its market here is partial overview. For printing, Heidelberg CD 102 Speedmasters figure strongly, a five colour and a six colour both with extended deliveries and coaters and the six colour has UV functionality as well. The two colour Lithrone is still there and a GTO picks up the crumbs. All the offset presses are well supported by CTP and CTF and connectivity is via Prinect. As befits a packaging printer, diecutting plays an important role, led by two Bobst SP 102 Evolines and because the presses are able to print faster than the diecutters, more support is required and a further Bobst Novacut 106 and a Jagenburg 105 provide versatility. Five manual diecutters, well suited for point of sale work and bespoke card work, chip in.

All of the diecutting facilities are supported by state of the art pre-production equipment, and Al Mansoorah offers a wide range of post print and cutting facilities such as blister packaging, lamination, window patching, slotting creasing and gathering. Digital has been embraced in the form of Xerox Nuvera 144.

Al Mansoorah Press has crafted a formidable presence in the market and is well placed to strengthen its position yet the Kazanis would be the first to acknowledge the role suppliers have played in providing advice and analysing investment strategies. To an outside observer the Kazani team demonstrates a quality not always seen in the printing industry. Rather than try and beat down the supplier for the best possible price, they adopt a team approach; a ‘we are in this together’ attitude. When dealing with their customers they know that what they have to offer, anybody can offer, so they work very hard on building relationships. So it should be with suppliers.

Heidelberg thanks to its market leadership and its accompanying knowledge has always been well able to provide advice and guidance. Raj acknowledges this: “Over the period of these 13 years, Heidelberg and Al Mansoorah had developed a very valuable and good business relationship and have invested 15 million AED.”

And The Future

The family continuity is assured. Ali Anwar, Anwar’s son has now got eight years with Al Mansoorah Press under his belt and is taking a very active role. Siraj has moved to a more strategic position though he is going to be busy with strategies for some time yet. Al Mansoorah Press is set to move to the IMPZ. Plans have been finalised, construction is due to begin in a couple of months and the move to a huge new facility is set to take place in 2014.  Further investment decisions being considered include another Heidelberg six colour, possibly an XL and a natural extension to the services on offer a flexible packaging print line. The Kazanis are going to be the ones to watch; there is no sign of a strategy that includes consolidation, sitting on the hands or marking time with this dynamic team.

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