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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 11 December 2018

Samsung Gulf eyes double-digit sales growth in second half

The South Korean company registered 10% growth in the first half of this year compared to last year

Tarek Sabbagh, of Samsung Gulf Electronics, at the launch of Galaxy Note 9. Courtesy Samsung
Tarek Sabbagh, of Samsung Gulf Electronics, at the launch of Galaxy Note 9. Courtesy Samsung

Despite a slowdown in the smartphone market in the Arabian Gulf region, Samsung, the world's biggest smartphone maker, is aiming to boost sales and register more than double-digit growth during the second half of 2018, as it battles Apple and Huawei to retain market dominance.

“We see a slowdown in the overall market. But Samsung [Gulf] had a very successful first half of 2018, during which we managed ... 10 per cent more [sales] when we compare with first half of 2017,' Tarek Sabbagh, head of IT and mobile division, Samsung Gulf Electronics (excluding Saudi Arabia), told The National.

"Our aim is not to repeat the same performance but to surpass it during the current half,” he said.

In the GCC region, smartphone shipments were down 4.7 per cent quarter-on-quarter, with Q1 2018 representing the fourth consecutive quarter of decline, according to the International Data Corporation’s (IDC) quarterly mobile phone tracker report. However, Samsung maintained its lead with 35 per cent share of the region's shipments in the first quarter of 2018, while Apple and Huawei ranked second and third with respective shares of 24 per cent and 14 per cent, IDC said.

“When I say double digit, it pertains to our actual sales that went from our side to the retailers and then to the end consumers," said Mr Sabbagh, who declined to share the number of shipments and profit figures. "Successful launch of S9 helped the brand to post robust growth in the first half."

Of the South Korean firm's regional dominance in sales, he said: “We are leading the market. According to [research company] GFK, Samsung had a market share of 39 per cent in this region in the first half of 2018.”

Although Samsung is performing well regionally the slowdown in the global smartphone market is starting to take a toll on overall business. Samsung’s net income fell short of analysts’ estimates as the slow market hit demand for its Galaxy devices. Net income was 11 trillion won (Dh35.99 billion) in the three months ended June, compared with the 11.6tn won average of estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

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Samsung considers the UAE, which contributes 50 per cent of its sales in the Gulf region, its best performing market and a trendsetter.

“The UAE market is definitely on the top of our list because of many reasons, such as high incomes and presence of different nationalities. UAE is like a model for other countries. You will always see a new trend starting here and then it moves to other countries,” said Mr Sabbagh. “Growth [for Samsung] is picking up in the rest of the GCC as well. We are seeing a boom in sales in Kuwait and Oman as well.

“Different regions have different numbers but our performance during the first half of the year shows that this region’s consumers are having a different approach toward technology" compared to others.

“Technology is part of their daily life, their image and they are using phones in a totally different manner. They are switching from one phone to another faster than other places, adding to the overall market.”

Samsung launched its latest model Galaxy Note 9 last week, promising better battery life and a tie-in with Fortnite, the hottest multi-player game on the planet right now.