x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Chocodates in Britain? That’ll do nicely

The UAE remains Notion Group’s largest market with half its sales generated here. Saudi Arabia is its second-largest market.

Notions Group chief executive Fawaz Masri said the company has started exporting to North African countries, Australia and New Zealand. Jaime Puebla / The National
Notions Group chief executive Fawaz Masri said the company has started exporting to North African countries, Australia and New Zealand. Jaime Puebla / The National

Chocodates, the chocolate-coated date and nuts sweets made in Dubai, are expected to hit the shelves of Britain’s Tesco this year, as the UAE company continues its push to become a global brand, its chief executive said yesterday.

Notions Group, which also owns the La Ronda chocolate brand, was in “advanced talks” with Tesco, the United Kingdom’s largest supermarket chain, the chief executive, Fawaz Masri revealed during the first day of the Gulfood expo.

Tesco has 6,784 stores worldwide, with 3,146 of those in the UK, and generated £72.4 billion (Dh442.11bn) in global sales in the year ending last February.

“We are getting into the UK this year,” Mr Masri said. “We have already been entering into an agreement with Tesco, so we are in advanced talks with them and we hope the final agreement to enter will be completed in 2014.”

Tesco did not respond to enquiries about the talks.

Mr Masri, a Jordanian who has been in the UAE for 33 years, said his ambition was to make Chocodates a global product. “That’s something year after year I am working on, and we are getting there.”

For now, the UAE remains Notion Group’s largest market, with half its sales generated here. Saudi Arabia is its second-largest market. However, the company added 15 new markets last year, bringing to about 50 the total number of countries, among them the United States, in which it has a presence.

“We also started exporting to many North African countries, Australia and New Zealand,” Mr Masri said. There was also interest in the product in Switzerland, Germany and Austria.

To meet anticipated demand from consumers in far-flung places, Notions Group spent US$10 million expanding its savoury snacks plant in Saudi Arabia and building a chocolate factory in Dubai Investment Park.

This means that by the middle of this year, production in Saudi Arabia will have jumped to 15,000 tonnes from 10,000 tonnes annually, and will double to 10,000 tonnes in the UAE. The factory in Saudi Arabia makes Fiesta and Amigo potato crisps.

Notions also unveiled its latest product at Gulfood: chocolate-coated almonds and hazelnuts.

In other news from the Gulfood expo, government and finance executives assembled to announce the launch of a dedicated halal cluster at Dubai Industrial City.

The creation of the cluster is intended to drive the growth of halal food, cosmetics and personal care products as Dubai seeks to become the global capital of the Islamic economy.

“The centre intends to work closely with its stakeholders, both in the public and private sectors, to streamline efforts and to align the incentives offered to halal businesses, resulting in an enabling environment for the halal industry,” said Abdulla Al Awar, the chief executive of the Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre.

He was speaking at the sidelines of the exhibition at the World Trade Centre in Dubai.

lgutcher@thenational.ae

Follow us on Twitter @Ind_Insights