Smartphones manufacturer OPPO aims to begin manufacturing locally in Egypt. Andy Shi, the brand director for OPPO Middle East and North Africa, told Daily News Egypt that the company is in negotiations with the Egyptian government in this regard.
He added that the Egyptian market has 50% of the company’s sale centres in the MENA region.
What is your evaluation of the investment climate in the Egyptian market, especially after the flotation of the national currency?
The Egyptian market is going through a difficult time. This has a clear impact on companies operating in Egypt, competitors, and citizens themselves. The appetite for purchasing has been falling. Purchasing power is declining, making them more reluctant to buy devices due to high prices, especially high-quality products for which prices have skyrocketed.
However, many of our products are seeing more sales, such as the F1s model which has been selling more, even though it was just launched in Egypt in October. The current growth rates are lower than before—but they are still on the green side.
We hope the exchange rate stabilises and Egypt’s economy improves in the next period. This would improve the investment climate and help us boost our sales.
What are you expectations for Egypt in terms of sales?
Last month, we announced moving our regional MENA office to Cairo. This proves our confidence in Egypt and reflects our high hopes for the potential growth. The Egyptian market is very promising with many opportunities.
But in the current period, retail outlets, whether big or small, suffer from the limited sales. OPPO products are one of the very few devices seeing sales growth despite the conditions. It is hard, however, to predict a certain figure for the market sales, especially after the flotation of the pound and the volatility of exchange rates.
Despite these challenges, we are focusing on providing high-quality products. We are currently working to increase our sales through retail outlets to increase our reach. This was why we doubled the number of sales centres in Egypt. Across the MENA region we have over 8,000 sales centres, half of which are in Egypt. This is proof for how important the Egyptian market is for us in the region.
What is OPPO’s target for Egypt through 2017?
We currently have four after-sales service centres: two in Cairo, one in Mansoura, and another in Alexandria. We are about to open a new one in Tanta, while expanding our distribution and sales outlets network.
It is essential for us to achieve a real presence in the market. Yet, we do not aim for a specific market share, but rather work to provide new products that become popular among consumers.
The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology has a plan to attract investment in local manufacturing. Does OPPO have a plan that fits within the government strategy?
If you look at our global plans, the mother company is in China. We targeted southeast Asia, then India, and now the MENA region. We opened factories in Indonesia and another in India, along with the main factory in China. This reflects our willingness to manufacture locally where our products are bought.
We do have a plan to begin local manufacturing in Egypt. Currently we are in consultations and negotiations with the Egyptian market. When the right time comes, we will begin moving forward with this plan.
The Egyptian market is highly competitive. What competitive advantages do you have?
The Egyptian market is witnessing rapid growth. The high population census means there are huge marketing and sales opportunities. Many expect African markets to grow significantly in the coming period—some go even further to say these markets can outrun Chinese and Indian markets.
Africa is the future. And Egypt is a force to be reckoned with in Africa and the Middle East. This is not just because of the large population, but also due to the Egyptian consumers’ ability to accept new technologies.
If we look at the Egyptian population, we find that the under-30 youth demographic comprises the largest portion; this is whom we target at OPPO. We are always looking for young consumers who seek the latest trends and technologies. For example, Egyptians like taking selfies.
Our latest product, the F1s, is equipped with high photography capabilities, especially for selfies. Our strategy for the F1 series is providing sophisticated cameras and we can tailor this strategy according to the Egyptian market.
In addition, we are interested in sponsoring football teams, which is something very important to Egyptians. We are already sponsoring FC Barcelona.
Do you have plans to sponsor any Egyptian football teams?
One of our competitors is sponsoring Al-Ahly, while another sponsors Zamalek. We want to choose a good team to sponsor at the right time.
OPPO is the top mobile manufacturer in China. What are your plans for Egypt?
We did not have the target of becoming the top selling mobile in China. We have a clear strategy to provide products at affordable prices to young people. This is why we do not just launch as many products as we can like some competitors do. Our target is to gain young people’s confidence in our brand, not simply topping sales.
How will the launch of 4G services impact the smartphones market?
We started manufacturing 4G-ready smartphones in China in 2014, which contributed to boosting our sales. Launching the 4G service in Egypt is a great investment opportunity. All operators will launch the service, which enhances the expected sales of smartphones, including OPPO.
Did you sign partnerships with mobile operators?
Our focus is currently directed to driving our sales growth in the retail outlets forward. We have good relations with all mobile operators; however, as of now we do not have plans for cooperation with them.
Reports indicate sales will decline in Egypt through 2017. What are your expectations for the company’s growth next year?
The Egyptian market’s current circumstances, such as the exchange rate and the difficulty of importing machinery and spare parts, make it harder to predict sales. I expect our products to see more sales in the coming period, but cannot determine the rates in light of these conditions.