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Axiom Telecom plans to open 40 outlets in Gulf [Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)]
[February 11, 2013]

Axiom Telecom plans to open 40 outlets in Gulf [Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)]

(Gulf News (United Arab Emirates) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Axiom Telecom is set to offer mobile payment solutions and plans to open 40 more outlets in the Gulf to increase its profits by 20-25 per cent this year. Established in 1997, Axiom is the largest and authorised retailer and distributor of mobile phones, tablets and accessories. Tecom, which holds 26 per cent stake in Axiom now, sold 14 per cent of its stake in June 2011. Gulf News spoke to Faisal Abdul Aziz Al Bannai, Axiom's CEO, to get more details about the company's growth strategy.

Gulf News: Can you tell us about Axiom's performance in the Gulf last year Faisal Abdul Aziz Al Bannai: 2012 has been a record year for us. We grew by 10 per cent compared to 2011, with revenues of Dh8 billion. We opened 30 stores last year, which is a 25 per cent increase. Samsung and Apple really fuelled our revenues last year.

What are your expectations for this year We are expecting our revenues to grow by another 15 per cent and profits by 20-25 per cent this year. We invoice directly to more than 95 per cent of mobile shops in the UAE. In Saudi Arabia, we will cross 85 per cent of direct billing this year.

Axiom in late 2010 cancelled plans to raise about $100 million (Dh367.3 million) because of widespread concerns about the market conditions and liquidity. When do you expect the IPO (initial public offering) to be launched IPO is a means to achieve a certain goal. In 2010, we had plans for an IPO but cancelled it. In 2011, we did a transaction with Al Bannai Group which covered all our objectives for an IPO and resulted in a capital increase. From a capital point of view, we have enough liquidity for expansion. There is no pressing need for capital. But we are exploring IPO opportunities at our own pace. All options are on the table.

What kind of deals is Axiom looking at to expand its sales in the region One of the areas we are investing heavily in is mobile payments. We are in the final stages of launching the project in the Gulf. We are in a strong position to launch something big for the regional customers. We are also looking at acquisitions in the mobility space. Right now, we don't see any interesting player in the market.

How many retail outlets do you have in the Gulf We have 575 outlets, of which 300 retail points are at Adnoc, Emarat, Enoc and Eppco petrol stations in the UAE. We will open 40 more outlets this year in the region.

What are your expansion plans this year We dominate the mobility space. This year, we will also sell more media tablets to IT stores. We have major expansion plans in Saudi Arabia. Our biggest markets are the UAE and Saudi Arabia. The UAE contributes more profitability and Saudi Arabia more revenues. In the next couple of years, this is going to change. Saudi Arabia will contribute more profitability. This year, we are going to give a big push in Kuwait. We are looking for opportunities in Turkey and Iraq. We will do our feasibility study this year.

What is the market share of Axiom in the UAE mobile phone market According to GfK data, we own 70 per cent of the market share.

There are many retailers in the region. How does Axiom differentiate itself from the competition The Axiom shopping experience is carefully and intricately evolved with the customer in mind. We know that people do not want to wait for the latest and greatest products, so all the stops are pulled out to provide people with what they want, when they want it without compromising on a full spectrum of customer support.

Axiom succeeds because it is more than a brand and has pioneered a range of customer-centric initiatives like allowing the end-users to take a phone out of the shop for one hour to try before he/she buys; standby phone during repairs; trade-in option; 60 second data transfer; pick-up, repair and delivery service.

Ultimately, Axiom's growth is based on understanding customer needs and meeting their expectations.

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