05 April 2018

Strategy and practical know-how in one perfect package

Back in 1999, packaging specialists Cellopack Egypt had a turnover of EGP12m. Today, that figure stands at EGP85m – the result, says the firm, of combining a winning growth strategy with the solid financial and operational foundation to make it happen.

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Cellopack is an example of a company that sees the big picture, but never takes its eye off the detail. The family business was incorporated as a joint stock company in 1992, producing self-adhesive tapes, printed labels and flexible packaging. In 1997, with support from HSBC, Cellopack built a 15,000m2 factory in Cairo, riding on demand created by the government’s ‘Made in Egypt’ campaign.

“We invested in more sophisticated machinery with loans from HSBC along with other banks, and also trained our workers and middle managers to reach a level of competence that would be accepted internationally as well as locally,” says Managing Director Mohamed Hamza.

Cellopack’s success comes, says Hamza, from the competence of the management team, investment in qualified staff, continuous training for employees at all levels, but also from always staying connected to the world beyond Egypt.

The company keeps up-to-date with technical developments by visiting exhibitions abroad, stays in close touch with customers and suppliers and looks for smart solutions to make operations and finance efficient and cost-effective. One of those solutions was the complete online banking platform HSBCnet, which allows companies to manage cash flows and facilitate trade transactions wherever they are in the world.

“I think we were lucky that we’d partnered with HSBC from the beginning, because we could then be quick to get the benefits of HSBCnet when the bank pioneered the service here in Egypt,” says Hamza. “It saves us an enormous amount of time, streamlining transactions, managing documents, managing cash, and dealing with overseas suppliers and customers. In fact, the bank’s international presence has been invaluable as we’ve expanded our trade to nine countries.

“Whenever we’ve had questions about a banking regulation or a requirement from a foreign supplier that we didn’t understand, the bank was always there with the proper answer so that our international transactions could run smoothly.”

Cellopack is optimistic about their own future, and the future of business in Egypt.  With a market of 90m people and a drive to improve the standard of living, the country is primed for a huge boom in demand and production for many decades to come, says Hamza.

The growth of food, pharmaceutical, textile, white goods and other industries has brought a healthy variety of customers – something that spreads risk as well as opening up opportunities.

“Since our early days, the market has developed enormously in Egypt and there is a growing need for more high-level products,” says Hamza. “With multinational companies established here, we’ve had the springboard to expand the business and increase our range.”

Cellopack studied market demand in detail, identified a need for new packaging products, found machinery suppliers and signed a medium-term loan agreement with HSBC to finance their growth over the next five years.

“During the last few years, of course, the business environment in Egypt has gone through difficult times,” says Hamza “Throughout that, we’ve been careful to keep our good relationships with customers and suppliers so that we were in a position to move ahead, rather than regain lost ground, when things improved.

“We now feel very confident about the economic future of Egypt. As a country, we’re eager to catch up with the developed world, join hands with the global business community and work for the welfare of the Egyptian people. The Egypt Economic Development Conference held in mid-March proved Egypt’s commitment to reaching its economic development goals.”

He sees banks as having an important role in the development of the business environment and in the economy.

“Companies need short- and medium-term loans to be able to take part in the activity that’s now going on. They also need support through the proper regulation of transactions between businesses and their customers and suppliers, along with import and export support.”

“Our advice to any company planning for expansion is to work with good advisors. We believe management should study the feasibility carefully, but be open to discussing the potential and practicalities with banks, suppliers, customers, a firm’s own workers or other stakeholders.”

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