Haytham El Bendary: Clear understanding of customers and consumers’ needs and being responsive to their changing preferences will be the key to our success.

Haytham El Bendary: Clear understanding of customers and consumers’ needs and being responsive to their changing preferences will be the key to our success.

Haytham El Bendary has taken on the role of Group Sales Director at Global Food Industries (GFI) and International Beverage and Filling Industries (IBFI) since June 2020. Haytham is the one in charge of driving sales across GFI and IBFI’s brands in the frozen, snacking and beverages categories that will enable both companies to double its business in the next five years and achieve its ambitious growth aspirations.

What Haytham brings to GFI and IBFI is his unique advantage of being active in both the academic and business community as an Adjunct Professor in Marketing at the IE Business School and the several key managerial positions he has successfully held over a 25-year professional career in corporates and multinationals within the F&B industry. These include The Coca-Cola Bottling Company, Kraft Foods International, and PepsiCo system, as well as MenaBev and Masafi. On top of this, Haytham holds a Master’s degree in Research Methodology and Quantitative Methods and a PhD candidate in Business Analytics from the IE Business School in Madrid, Spain, as well as an Executive MBA degree from the Brown University – School of Professional Studies in Providence, USA.

“We need to come closer to the customers and consumers, understand what the consumers’ motives and needs are and accordingly deploy our resources in order to meet consumer expectations,” Haytham says. “This is how we will secure sustainable growth, increase our consumer base, while at the same time have a competitive edge and advantage in the market. As everything evolves around the consumer, our product profile and range, as well as service levels must be geared towards serving consumers better.”

Haytham cites that among GFI and IBFI’s advantage is the heritage that its brands have built over the years, as well as its proactive engagement of customers and consumers.

“Consumers have recognized our brands well – whether it is Star or Al Areesh. Our brand equity, which is more than 25 years in the UAE and across the region, is one of the key pillars that will drive our growth further,” Haytham adds. “However, especially with an increasingly fast-paced lifestyle, consumer preferences change almost day by day. We must therefore be able to match and respond to such ever-changing consumer needs and preferences so that we can truly serve them even better. To do this, we make it a point to constantly secure, study and analyze consumer feedback and behavior through surveys, as well as direct interaction with customers and consumers.”

Haytham reveals that the leadership team has brainstormed, agreed, and set the business objectives of GFI and IBFI in the coming years. From these objectives, key priorities have been identified and are already in motion through several action plans for 2021 and the next five years. Covering three categories: frozen, beverages and snacking, each and every member of the GFI and IBFI team has his own role to play.

Haytham believes that excellence in execution is one of the key growth builders and that the key focus is to draw a clear set of goals for frontline teams across all sales channels. He also believes that there must be a focus on fundamentals, with emphasis on going back ‘back to basics’ and the importance of key levers: product availability, visibility, and merchandising.

“It is important that everyone is reading from the same page and working towards the same objectives,” Haytham explains. “As far as the sales team is concerned, everybody must know what the priorities are for each category, each segment and what is expected from each role. Along with the support from the trade marketing team, the sales team must have a clear view of the full picture and have a sense of ownership of what is expected to be delivered and their contribution towards the entire success journey of GFI and IBFI.

“In addition, let me say that people are the most valuable asset for any organization and having a capable sales team is essential to the success of the company, particularly in FMCG. Accordingly, we have set clear deliverables in 2021 to drive team capabilities and enhance frontline team skills, improve our service levels and strengthen our presence in the market through extensive capability agenda.”

Haytham is confident that with the entire GFI and IBFI teams working together towards a common objective, both companies will achieve its business growth aspirations.

“Absolutely!” Haytham responds when asked whether it can be achieved. “I have no doubt and I can see it clearly that this is coming because the potential is there, our product quality is very good and Albatha has provided an all-out support behind the growth. With the right team and good support from management, this can definitely be done.”