Give us an idea of INPACS – the concept, growth and how it benefits its members the world over?
The concept of INPACS is reflected in its slogan ‘Global Supply Solution’ with an important focus on sustainability. In other words, our international customers can benefit from INPACS as a reliable and consistent partner with unique coverage on a global scale in more than 50 countries and 5 continents. Supply stands for distribution of the most comprehensive non-food product portfolio in our market. And solution indicates the key differentiation factor in our approach towards our customers. This approach starts with our end customers to whom we offer tailored services such as technical support at point of use, programmes to define a more efficient supply chain, own logistics to take care of all needs and requirements of our customers and business intelligence tools combined with several state of the art e-commerce solutions.
As a service provider we need to think about what our customers are looking for. International accounts benefit from our one central interlocutor who is taking care of local implementation of global contracts and reporting back. This concept is also used by our members at the local level. So, there is certainly a process of rising service levels thanks to the know-how exchange amongst our members. In addition, INPACS identifies international trends thus putting our members in the best position to adapt their organisations quicker to these.
Our growth can be measured in different ways. It is best to point out the increasing number of international customers who rely on us in over 50 countries in 5 continents. They are the reason for our growth and expansion. Our focus is now on the future. Thanks to our new strategic plan, I am confident that the market can continue to count on INPACS as a strong and reliable partner in future..
Why does the organisation focus specifically on family-owned businesses?
Is this the secret of INPACS? Perhaps. Family-owned companies are the healthy component of our economies. They do not fluctuate as much as international competitors do: whose target is mainly to create value to the stock market and not so much to bring value to end-users. Our members on the other hand, are responsive to the needs of our customers, ensuring a perfectly tailored service at the point of use, exactly where it is needed. Knowing the complexity of local markets and through its members, INPACS speaks the same language, is closer to where the customer´s requirements and problems are, and the decision making process is quicker. This way INPACS offers a global structure, and the implementation of added value is offered by local experts – our members – and remember, they have been in the market for many years. Apart from this, there is a tremendous value in family-run organisations for their local communities. They support a sustainable and economic environment that is invaluable and needs to be preserved.
Tell us about INPACS’ presence in the Middle East. What is your view of the region?
The geographical coverage of INPACS as organisation is driven by our international customers and their demands. INPACS has been expanding to where our customers needed us. The Middle East represents, without a doubt, a tremendous opportunity for many of our international accounts, and at the same time it is a very fragmented and non-professionalised market in comparison to the US and/or Europe. It is a double challenge. INPACS had the same situation in the beginning of the century in Eastern Europe, now this experience will guide us in Middle East. Most important will be: how the market and its actors will adapt to the big events to take place in the region by 2020. Personally, I believe it will cause an unhealthy growth. What will occur right after that? Only the best positioned and structured organisations will survive. Therefore, it is time to invest and to learn how to better serve the markets and to prepare the next e.g. 10 years as the market will reach its concentration.
How do you think the companies in this region view your presence?
A question best to be made to other companies - honestly, I’m not aware of their opinion as I am focussed on our own approach and can only talk about the companies we operate with. Obviously the historical track of INPACS has bestowed us with a certain awareness. A reliable partner, able to implement global contracts and having consideration of the local peculiarities – is what our customers would probably say. We help in the implementation of their plans and targets to establish a more efficient supply chain, with a strong added value of using business intelligence tools in any segment as needed.
From our manufacturers´ perspective, INPACS stands for driving up professionalism in the markets where it operates. The results of our cooperation with top manufacturers over the past decades paved the way for consolidation of the markets, which inevitably reflects in growth rates above average. With this impact, our industry partners become soon interested to expand in this region through INPACS.
What made you choose Viking Gulf as your partner in the region?
INPACS was looking for a distribution partner in the region for quite some time. Our main goal was to find a dynamic and entrepreneurial family-owned business in the UAE, which would be active within our industry and have a global and a long-term perspective. The selection of our partners across the globe has one fundamental premise: serving our international corporate accounts with first-class services. With this in mind the considered member company has to fulfill the prerequisite of offering a One-Stop-Shop (i.e. offer the possibility for our customers to have access to a complete range of non-food products). The most important part, however, is the differentiation factor of our organisation driven by our tailor-made service portfolio.
Viking Gulf has emerged as the right partner for us because of the company’s absolute fulfillment of all the above-mentioned factors.
How long have both companies been partners?
The first contact between Viking Gulf and INPACS goes a few years back. The European background of Viking’s ownership facilitated the understanding between both organisations. Some years ago Imad Mahaini initiated a project in the ‘middle of the desert’, as he would name it. Nowadays both sons, Henrik and Carsten, are fully involved in the company assuring the long-term vision for the organisation. The well-established succession plan was critical for us in order to count on a partner to build the future together, instead of taking ‘quick decisions’; neither Viking nor INPACS have to report to any investors’ markets.
Having established this, both organisations soon realized that it is the perfect match for partnering, and shortly after, the new INPACS member started serving our international clients in the region.
What other plans do you have in this region? Do you plan to partner with other local companies here?
Obviously in our mission to best serve our customers and help INPACS members to develop quicker than the market, it is extremely important to accelerate the process of finding the best organisations in the markets; in those covered and those still to be covered. So indeed, Middle East is a short and mid-term strategic goal for us. Thanks to Viking Gulf, we learned quite a lot about the region over past 12 months. The achievements made to date are very satisfactory and our major aim right now is to continue this way. Therefore Viking Gulf remains an important part for our further actions in the region. It will be important and also challenging to find partners showing entrepreneurial behaviour, being trustful, visionary and sharing of our values and vision. I am excited about the coming results in the next 12 months.
Are you equipped for future challenges and how? How will your relationship with Viking Gulf impact this?
Well, I wish I could answer with a clear ‘yes’. If anyone in this market can affirm this question, I would dare to doubt this, because nobody can be sure. Viking and INPACS are firmly committed to continuously increase the added value to our customers, locally and internationally. This is the driving factor in our further development. Currently, market trends such as digital business transformation must be seriously taken into consideration. Recognising the importance of this, INPACS is now present in all major regions and is further investing in the newest technologies including customer ordering systems and business intelligence tools for our customers.
Further on the digitalisation topic, in Autumn 2016, our German partner Igefa reached the finals at the Purus Innovation Awards at the CMS Trade Fair in Berlin as a single distribution company offering a customisable ordering app. At the same time in Berlin, INPACS was sponsoring the World Forum for BSC as the only distributor. At this conference, INPACS was debating digitalisation within our industry with major global FM/BSC companies and how our role as distributor should be best defined. These participations are clear indicators of our organisation’s involvement in topics that are directly affecting our clients at present. To give you another example, in the past few years, the major topic for our clients was sustainability. As a result, today, INPACS is proud to have received the CSR GOLD rating by ECOVADIS as recognition of our efforts in sustainability and fair business practices. What I want to express with this is that it is difficult to predict what awaits us in future. Nevertheless, action and clear commitment are driving the path of these trends - something that we, the global mediator of our industry, are proud to continue doing.