Ismail Noordeen

Ismail Noordeen

Managing Director of Euro Marketing PVT. Ltd.

Economy / Maldives

“There should be a system designed to give more advantages to native suppliers”

A leader in the food supply and distribution sector, Euro Marketing has made a name for itself representing iconic brands such as Lavazza and Toblerone. Providing for resorts and retail alike, today the company is well entrenched in the market, and is looking into expanding its operations across the Indian ocean.

How competitive is the Maldivian import/export market?

There is healthy competition in the national market with quite a few indigenous companies pushing each other to do better. However, that is not the case when we consider international players in the market. To be sure, these international companies from Singapore, Sri Lanka and elsewhere, are absolutely necessary for the industry, as they have the capacities to bring products which we do not. However, local companies are at a great disadvantage against them, as we are limited by the very restrictive banking and financial environment in the Maldives, which makes access to credit very difficult, even for market leaders. Furthermore, these companies often have more resources to address the major resorts themselves, but then rely on us to provide part of the products, acting like middle men, when in fact we would be able to provide a better service, particularly in after sales, than they do. Hotels and resorts that want to have smooth operations here would be better off with a local partner that can support them.

What can be done to improve the position of indigenous companies in the sector?

I think the government could learn considerably from other nations on how to protect and promote the internal market. There should be a system designed to give more advantages to native suppliers. After all, for the country, a foreign importer bringing foreign products for an international resort brand in the Maldives contributes very little to the economy. If local companies were participating in the process, they would be potentiating local employment and the economy. Initiatives like the SME Bank are very positive to help finance smaller Maldivian entrepreneurs and facilitate financing, but without further support, it is very difficult for Maldivian companies to compete.

How do you perceive the proposed infrastructural developments for Male in the near future?

The move of the port of Malé to Thilafushi or Gulhifalhu, and the construction of the connectivity bridges in the Greater Malé Region will have a very positive impact on the city in general and our operations in particular. Right now, the two single most challenging aspects of the distribution sector is the lack of space in the Malé port and the difficulties of distribution in the congested streets of the capital. Once we move a significant portion of this traffic from the city to the surrounding islands, we will be able to greatly improve our services, not to mention the major upgrade for the lives of the people in general. Combined with our intent to digitize our business, it will mean great improvements in efficiency.