Cover Story: THE ‘FINE’ COMMANDMENTS
 

Fine Solutions’ Chief, Nedal Al Zatari and UAE Country Manager, Seifeddine Beldi speak to Rashmi Karanjekar about the importance of hygiene and the ease of having best-in-class hygiene solutions within everyone’s reach, as well as this major group’s foray into the health and wellness space.

Everyone uses paper tissues and hygiene products every day, whether it is a commercial space, a residence or an institution. But like most things we consume on a day-to-day basis, we hardly ever have time to pause and think if the product in hand is safe and reliable. This holds true for the humble paper towel as well, that we use daily to wipe our hands and face after having a meal in the office or restaurant or after using a restroom in a public space. It is however, imperative that we take a few moments to think about how that single piece of tissue found its way to your hands. Consider how this single tissue has been manufactured, handled, packed and delivered; if that tissue paper is not made under safe and hygienic conditions then you’re at risk. Fine Hygienic Holding (FHH), headquartered in Dubai, UAE and Amman, Jordan is one fine example of how a company’s concern for well-being can be woven into the fabric of business. A leading manufacturer of hygienic paper products at the global level, FHH specializes in paper tissues, diaper production, chemical hygiene products and, with the recent acquisition of Nai Arabia Food Co., healthy, natural beverages. The company’s founder, Elia Nuqul, who started off with a modest trade and import business for food and consumer goods, realised early in life the enormous potential of the hygienic paper products market and went on to establish FHH way back in 1958. With a commitment to innovation and sustainability, the company has grown by leaps and bounds over the past decades and has been successfully developing new products and hygienic solutions, patenting new processes and technologies, and expanding into untapped markets. FHH currently has a presence in more than 75 countries across the Middle East, Africa, Europe, Asia, and the USA.

The Hygienic Solution

Fine Solutions, the away-from-home division of FHH provides businesses and institutions with the solutions they need to ensure a clean and hygienic work environment. As we all know, one of the main factors to running a successful business is to have qualified and dedicated employees. The company has been hiring the best talent from across the globe and currently employs around 3,500 people from more than 30 different nationalities, operating under the guidance of a dedicated leadership team.

Nedal Al Zatari, Chief, Fine Solutions and Global Developing Markets, whose most notable achievement has been that of developing and setting up this away-from-home business, says, “We started Fine Solutions in 2007 with an objective to address this untapped market.” Under his leadership the company’s revenue has increased 22 times over the last ten years.

Fine Solutions caters to various business segments, from restaurants and hotels to corporate offices, industrial facilities and healthcare institutions, delivering tailor-made solutions to suit their clients’ requirements. The division offers a wide range of hygienic products, while ensuring that the first hand to touch their products is that of the user. Their portfolio includes an ever-growing range of facial tissues, hand towels, toilet papers, napkins, medical supplies, disposable supplies, kitchen towels, coasters, air fresheners, liquid cleaners, sanitizers and more.

“Once I started working in this market, I realized that I am not here merely to sell tissues, but to provide complete hygiene solutions. Therefore, we approach the market with three strong pillars that include reducing the running costs, providing hygiene solutions and establishing long term partnerships,” asserts Al Zatari.

Innovative Technology and Operational Efficiency

The company has invested heavily in all levels of the production process, setting up numerous specialised production and distribution facilities as per international standards across the MENA region. With five fully operational state-of-the-art paper mills in the UAE, Jordan, and Egypt, and a total annual production of around 200,000 tons, the group is also operating 5 converting factories in the aforementioned countries as well as Saudi Arabia and Morocco, along with a printing press in Jordan. The company constantly develops in-house innovative tools to ensure that they offer high quality products of global standards, while adopting best practices to preserve the natural resources.

“By employing the best-in-class technologies, all these facilities are managed according to rigorous international standards, guaranteeing the consistent quality and sterility of our products every step of the way. We have a longstanding relationship with the top suppliers in the world such as Valmet and Voith,” says Fine Solutions Chief.

“Our tissue products are made from 100 per cent virgin pulp that is sourced in a responsible manner, which is a testament to our sustainability efforts,” he adds. The company relies on innovative ideas and technologies to deliver the best results. For instance, their patented ‘SteriPro™’ sterilization process and ‘No Touch’ mechanism guarantee the highest levels of sterilization and quality, meaning “the tissue products go through the entire production process without ever being touched by a human hand.”

“We have also introduced an innovative technology called ‘WetPro’ for our toilet tissue products range that are designed to stay intact during use, even when exposed to large amounts of water, but disintegrate when flushed,” he remarks, also adding that they have ensured that their products comply with food safety regulations. This has also been endorsed by a third-party association. Additionally, our Adult Briefs are equipped with our patented ‘DermaPro’ skin care technology which nourishes and moisturizes to avoid skin irritation.

Building Partnerships

FHH is dedicated to delivering cost-effective, hygienic solutions though our value-driven partner programs which are designed to bring our loyal customers commercial benefits, improve the overall hygiene level, and positively contribute to their growth. We have developed exclusive partner programs to grant access to our strategic affiliation, the Medical Wellness Association (MWA), facilitate joint marketing activities, and more. Programs such as the Medical Wellness Aspire and the Hygiene Affiliate Program aim to benefit our overall healthcare sector, including hospitals, medical centers, or clinics.

Moreover, another newly released program is the Risk- Free Guarantee, which is designed to provide worldclass hygienic solutions and ensure a great experience without risking client money or interrupting their dayto- day operations.

Cost-Effective Solutions

The company focuses on offering solutions to help decrease the running costs of their customers while increasing the hygiene level and hence, the overall perception of their customers. “We always work towards reducing the consumption,” says Al Zatari. “It is not about how many rolls we sell, instead we focus on the benefits we offer. The normal approach is to compete on price, but we are not price-driven and still rule the market; the reason being that we compete on customer benefits and offer them what is best suited for their business.” For instance, he says, their sensor-based, Autocut Towels range is designed to govern the consumer hygienic behavior to eliminate waste and reduce the cost of use by 30 per cent on an average. “They are available with high quality autocut dispensers that also feature superior sensors optimizing the responsive use.

The dispensers are engineered to help control use in high traffic areas, and the feeding time gap between the sheets as well the length of each sheet is adjustable for greater efficiency. These dispensers also help save time for the facility management staff who would otherwise have to constantly keep track of the usage and refill the dispensers,” he continues.

Moreover, the company has recently reinvented the toilet roll by introducing the Duetto Roll – a new creative design that is equipped with an additional and convenient travel-sized roll, which can be detached and carried around in pockets and handbags instead of every roll having a useless unfilled paperboard core. The highlight of this new product is that the company is selling it at no extra cost!

Seifeddine Beldi, UAE Country Manager, Fine Solutions, says, “We understand that our customers are coming from different channels facing different challenges, so we know that we need to meet their demands, and that is why we call ourselves Fine Solutions.” He further states that most of the businesses they undertake require customization and that they understand that the traffic in a washroom at a mall is not the same as that of a hotel lobby. “So, we don’t have a standard product that works for all industries. Instead, we develop products that will work well for a healthcare facility, back of house in a restaurant, or office, etc.”

Work Culture

The company provides necessary training to their teams so they can function as ‘consultants’ and meet their customers, understand their needs and then come up with a complete hygiene solution while cutting their running costs, says Beldi. “We have consultants for different verticals i.e., a team that is specialised in handling each industry, be it healthcare, HORECA, facility management, cleaning service provider, educational institution and so on.”

Again, considering the tough market scenario, they need to ensure that their services are of the highest level starting from the product quality and delivery to installation and after services, in addition to cost effectiveness, he emphasises. “That is why we don’t call ourselves sales and marketing professionals. We actually consult with the customer and understand the demand in line with their KPIs to reduce their spending and come up with the most suitable solution.”

The company is also committed to women empowerment and at present the leadership team constitutes 30 percent women. Additionally, the entire KSA production line is now being run by women. “We have always supported women empowerment. In addition, we have just launched a world class maternity system. Besides, we have always encouraged diversity and that’s the reason why we are actually evolving and growing into different regions, and we cherish this,” Al Zatari underscores.

The company places great emphasis on training and has established a Sales Excellence Centre in Jordan, which provides cutting-edge training hands-on solutions and techniques. The personnel are responsible for organizing training programs within the region and beyond to train the staff and newcomers and distributors. They also conduct refresher programs every couple of months. “We have excellent internal network and communication channels that connect to all our offices for any training and refreshment courses. This is to ensure that each staff member, whether in the UAE, Egypt, KSA or Jordan follows the same processes – in terms of product information, science and delivery,” says Beldi.

FHH recently received several regional awards in recognition of its dedication to promoting a healthy, diverse and overall exceptional workplace environment.

Sustainable Initiatives

On the sustainability front, the group has achieved a company-wide goal of ‘zero’ landfill waste, recycling as per the requirement, while the rest is collected by a third party to be used in other manufacturing processes. In fact, for the energy requirements, Al Zatari says, the group is committed to utilizing clean energy sources to reduce CO2 emissions wherever possible. “Some of our factories are now supplied with natural gas, reducing reliance on fossils fuels and decreasing CO2 emissions,” he comments.

As an active participant in and signatory to the United Nations Global Compact, we believe in doing our part to implement socially and environmentally responsible business practices, and to offer open, transparent reporting on these efforts. FHH received a number of awards and certificates testifying its commitment to the environment including the Chain of Custody Certification (CoC) award, which allows it to place the Forrest Supervision Council (FSC) insignia on its packaging globally, in addition to the ISO Quality Control Certificate ‘ISO 9001:2000,’ the ISO Environmental Management Certificate ‘ISO 14001:2004,’ and the ISO Safety and Occupational Health Certificate.

Exploring and Expanding into New Markets

The group plans to spread its wings to new markets. “We are eyeing markets in Africa, Europe, Asia and the USA. We are planning to set up manufacturing units in Asia and Africa and also looking to build local partnerships, as we appreciate the value and local know-how. We look for partners who have the same values, and secondly, those who believe in continuous growth,” Al Zatari highlights.

Further, the company will continue to push for the expansion and market leadership by “out-innovating and out-maneuvering” the competition. “The opportunities are limitless, and we believe that the sky is the limit!” Fine Solutions Chief concludes.