Decorative ribbon might seem like a niche product, but that is exactly why it is of interest to Jasem M Al Hosani. The general manager of the Emirates International Factory for Ribbon Manufacturing, which is in Al Ain, discusses how he used market intelligence from an existing business to launch a new one focused on ribbon production.
q What exactly does your new business do?
a We manufacture ribbons from raw material [such as] yarn. Then we can do designs and branding for companies, and print in colour, design photos. We [also provide] some products like medal ribbons, labels, ribbon key chains, [clothing] labels.
q The Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development provided you with support to conduct a feasibility study on the market's demand for ribbon in the UAE. How else did you realise there was a need for this?
a Before, I had a business for [selling] chocolates and gift wrapping [called My Party]. During this period I had studied the market and I know what is missing. It was by real experience. We already produced [ribbon] products, and we tried to sell it to the market. There was some demand we couldn't [meet] because we didn't have enough machines. We knew how much demand we missed, and we opened the business to cover this. Now we need to expand our production, so we opened this factory in Al Ain.
q What kinds of companies are you targeting?
a We are selling [to companies that offer] sweets, chocolates, flowers. Hotels, bookshops, wrapping [stores]. Also we've supplied garment factories for dress labels. There are different markets … We need to customise our needs for different occasions and different needs for businesses, not only for distribution but also for wholesale. For example, we have customers who want a customised design only for [a particular] brand.
q You launched the company this summer, and you have 10 employees so far. Where do you go from here?
a We wish to expand in the future outside the Emirates, into the Gulf region. We will start with the Emirates and next year we start to go for the Gulf market: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, etc.
q And what steps will you be taking as you look to expand internationally?
a We wish to participate in [forthcoming exhibitions] at the Dubai World Trade Centre. [One] exhibition I have visited before with different companies from Germany, Italy and different dealers coming from the Gulf region. We'll participate, analyse and then we'll see if we can compete with other markets and go for exhibitions in Europe, Africa and different markets.
q Are you still planning to hold on to your other business, My Party, as well?
a Yes, I still have it, but it's not for production [of goods]. It's like a distributor.
* Neil Parmar