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 Profile

NAEL AHMED

Nael Ahmed joined Reckitt Benckiser in October 2000 as Sales Director. His responsibilities include building an effective and efficient sales and distribution network as well as inducting and strengthening the sales force. This is aimed at inculcating the new organizational culture, based on core values. As part of the leadership team at Reckitt Benckiser Pakistan, Nael is responsible for the company's long- term growth and strategic direction. Nael has had extensive sales and marketing experience with leading multinational organizations in Pakistan. Before joining Reckitt Benckiser, he worked with Pepsi Cola International as their Franchise Director for almost eight years. After his MBA from the Institute of Business Administration (IBA), Karachi University, Nael proceeded to the University of Nebraska where he completed his MS in Economics.

By SHABBIR H. KAZMI
Feb-18  24, 2002

PAGE: There has been a strategic shift in sales and marketing policies of Reckitt Benckiser (RB). Why the need for this change was felt?

Nael Ahmed: I think it would be more appropriate if we say the shift is fundamental in nature. As for change, I believe in the phrase, "change is the only constant". We have changed our strategies and tactics to keep up with the changed market and consumer needs and to stay a step ahead of our competitors. Even in future we will continuously change and evolve to stay attuned to the consumer and the market needs.

PAGE: RB has a long history of operations in Pakistan. What are the areas and products in which the company considers itself to be the market leader?

Nael Ahmed: Reckitt Benckiser, previously Reckitt & Colman, has been in Pakistan for over 50 years and we certainly take pride in that fact. It is now market leader in most of the categories it operates in. Some of our prominent categories and brands are like household names. In pest control category, Mortein and Coopex brands are the market leaders. In antiseptic category, RB dominates the market in the liquid Dettol. As regards laundry care, RB is the market leader in laundry brightening agents. In pharmaceuticals, our Disprin, Disprol and Aspro enjoy very large market share. With Cherry Blossom range we are also the market leader. AirWick, is our recently introduced category. We plan to be the leader in a short span of time. Our current portfolio includes Aerosols, Bathroom blocks and Agarbattis.

PAGE: RB has added some products to its long list/relaunched the existing products. What has been the market response?

Nael Ahmed: Yes, we have added some products and more are in the pipeline. Some of these will be introduced this year. The products we have added or relaunched in last twelve months are, Robin liquid blue, Robin powder in Sachet, Dettol Extra a new variant, plus relaunch of existing variants, relaunch of Cherry Blossom shoe polish and Coopex coils. Air Freshner have been introduced with the brand name of Airwick This clearly shows the pace at which we are moving forward. Consumers and the trade will hear a lot more from us in near future.

PAGE: Which segment has the largest potential?

Nael Ahmed: Actually most of the segments we operate in have tremendous potential and its really up to us as to what we make of the whole thing. Even the new segments we are planning to get into have enormous potential, only to be limited by myopic mindset.

PAGE: Looking at the market size, what are your marketing plans and areas of focus?

Nael Ahmed: Reckitt Benckiser began operations in the late fifties in Pakistan. At present there are three manufacturing units in the country providing quality household and pharmaceutical products to a diversified consumer base. The outstanding contributor to our success is its portfolio of brands and the passion for excellence. The most important element of RB vision is its people. The future direction of the company is clearly defined. The engine of growth will be new product development keeping in view consumer needs. At the same time we are developing strategic alliances with our suppliers the world over.

Both in Sales and Marketing, for next couple of years, we will remain focused on getting the basics right. Knowing the consumer better and improving our efficiency and effectiveness will be our prime objective. Pakistani market presents great opportunity whereas most of the companies including us are still scratching the surface. Going back to basics, we will ensure that we are able to exploit the opportunities and find simple ways to then cash in over an extended period of time.

PAGE: How do you compare Pakistan's market with other regional markets?

Nael Ahmed: Generally the third world markets are quite similar. The consumers are price sensitive yet willing to try new products. The trade is fragmented with very little, if at all, any organized sector company can claim to enjoy. Pakistan is no different in that respect. However, I feel that Pakistani consumers like to spend and therefore can more easily be attracted to try new products and in some cases services. The trade on the other hand tends to invest little and likes to work on credit. While this may be an efficient way of doing business for the trade, it does have implication for the organisations like ours.