Interview with Arturo Manso (TEKA Küchentechnik), Dubai, United Arab Emirates

By Angela Gutierrez Moreno

TEKA Küchentechnik is a leading German manufacturer of full-range domestic built-in kitchen appliances founded in 1925. The business is one of the world-wide leaders in the manufacture of sinks and electric home appliances and its divisions range professional and domestic equipment for the kitchen and bath, containers of stainless steel, electronics and communications. TEKA employs 5000 employees worldwide and has subsidiaries in 38 countries, exporting to more than 100 countries in the world. Recently, TEKA has been awarded with the prestigious Emirates Quality Mark recognition, acknowledging it for its quality standards and procedures in its manufacturing process. It is the first brand in its category that receives the recognition.

I had the great pleasure to interview TEKA’s Managing Director in the United Arab Emirates Arturo Manso. We held an interesting “tête-à-tête” for almost one hour per Skype; Mr. Manso made out of the interview a remarkably enjoyable conversation. It was not easy selecting the information that went up to 800 words, since all facts that he told me were fascinating for me.

TEKA Küchentecknik was established in theUnited Arab Emiratesin 2003. Mr. Manso marched to the Emirates almost 10 years ago with the objective of implanting the enterprise there. Currently he lives in the city ofDubai, which he describes as a “little-big” city. It offers everything a big city can offer. Security, respect for people and property, the harmony among which more than 100 nationalities live regardless of their level of life and the facilities that the country offers to foreigners to live and develop their businesses, are issues that exist in very few countries in the world. In addition, the country and government cares for the Emiratis and gives them certain benefits by sharing with them the country’s resources. But, how is the issue of freedom of speech in the UAE? I found it interesting that nowadays and, in relation to the Emirates’ great living standards, there are many aspects that outweigh some small gaps or limitations of expression: it is not allowed to demonstrate or make unions. In this aspect, I was also wondering if TEKA was also safe and outside the conflicts in Emirates’ adjacent areas and suffering these at a commercial level, to what Mr. Manso answered that the brand had been quite apart from the conflicts in the area, “and I hope it stays that way”. The only conflict that could affect the business in short terms could be the eventual chain of problems that could be created betweenIranand the rest of the world, asIranis very close to the UAE. “I imagine it would be one of the easiest targets to harm not only the Arabs but also the Western interests”.

TEKA has built a strong network of dealers across the UAE. Within the country, the group provides its products and services without any agent or intermediate from its offices in Jebel Ali,DubaiandAbu Dhabi. These cities are “key areas of local point” for the brand, assuring it growth and sustainability. The German manufacturer’s two major distribution channels in UAE are through retailers (kitchen furniture stores), where it is the strongest brand with 163 stores counting TEKA dealers, and Channel Project, selling directly to the developers and large buildings constructors. Supermarkets are not TEKA-recipients because the products need to be mainly embedded and installed in kitchen furniture. Thus, the brand focuses on large, small, high or medium range kitchen shopping channel. Besides, Mr. Manso declares that they do not want to “position our products in large surfaces to maintain the level of the mark”.

The last two years, the business has sponsored a motorcycle racer Desert Rally Abu Dhabi. Moreover, it has its own football championship customers.

The business’ flagship in the UAE is the cooking line; among whose products are ovens, gas stoves, decorative hoods and microwaves. Mr. Manso showed me the type of decorative hoods that are leader in the Emirates. I found curious that a leading product could be a decorative hood. “It is not always about practical concerns”, stated Mr. Manso amusingly, “Emiratis are pretty demanding in this particular issue, although we as Europeans would not expect that”.

The company works with two of the three profiles of Emiratis existing in the country: Emiratis with high purchasing power and expatriated Emiratis residing in the country. The profile of a TEKA client is people with “the most basic work”, usually Indian and Asian workers in the construction.

Although the United Arab Emirates holds a good economic development, I wanted to find out in what scale the current world crisis affected this sector. The Managing Director claimed that the arrival of the crisis at the end of 2008 meant that all projects stopped automatically, in a dramatic way and within no time. “We went from riding a Ferrari 200 to run completely out of gasoline, unemployed and without money to go to the nearest gas station to get more gasoline”. As a result, mega-projects were obviously cancelled; projects in process completely stopped and, of course, no new projects could be developed. This had a bigger effect in Dubai, since Abu Dhabi has high oil revenues (95% Abu Dhabi GDP toDubai’s 6.5%). So Abu Dhabi, which was not in the world map until that moment, took over the country facing manyDubai’s pending payments and changing completely market situation in the United Arab Emirates. Before the crisis, only Dubai was considered, whereas nowadays it is a major business center together with Abu Dhabi.


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