By John Baker, London
In 2012, the government of Qatar established Qatar Chemical and Petrochemical Marketing and Distribution Company, more conveniently known as Muntajat, as the exclusive gateway to polymers, fertilizers and chemicals produced in the State of Qatar.
In what must be a unique initiative in the global chemical market, the government has created a single port of call for customers worldwide, and furthered its aim of carrying the “Made in Qatar” label all over the world.
Muntajat’s portfolio of products includes more than 11m tonnes/year of Qatar’s output. This number will grow as the State of Qatar develops its chemicals and petrochemicals industry in the future as part of its Vision 2030 strategic plan.
Muntajat has the exclusive right to purchase, market, distribute and sell a range of high-volume products from the country’s 12 producing companies (see graphic on page 4). These were established over the past four decades in partnership with a number of major chemical producers.
Muntajat’s CEO Abdulrahman Ali Al- Abdulla believes the initiative brings new efficiencies to marketing and selling as well as economies of scale in distribution. These will have benefits for both the producing companies and the customers for their products.
“We want to become closer to the customer, both before and after the sale has been made”Abdulrahman Ali Al-Abdulla
Transfer of marketing, sales and distribution activities from the producing companies to Muntajat was achieved in less than three years, without any disruption in the market.
The business has been segmented into three operational units, responsible for handling polymers, fertilizers and chemicals. Each is managed by an executive director for marketing and sales (see pages 3 and 6).
“In the past,” says Al-Abdulla, “we used to depend on the foreign partners for international sales.” But, as the scale of the industry developed over the years, “the State of Qatar decided to develop a single marketing and sales operation for all the output.” Now, “if a customer wants to purchase products from Qatar, they just need to remember ‘Muntajat’,” he adds.
The scale of the business enables Muntajat to negotiate better rates for shipping for instance, and make efficient use of supply chain infrastructure. “We can access the market efficiently and have already built up customer loyalty among the more than 4,000 global customers now on the company’s books.”
Dr Mark Betts, Executive Director of Corporate Planning at Muntajat, explains that the idea behind the creation of Muntajat was to unify existing Qatari producers’ sales, marketing and distribution activities under a single umbrella and to create a single brand in the market. Previously, they had separate marketing operations and supply chains and different back-end system and processes.
Bringing everything under one roof, he explains, “gives us economies of scale and allows us to take a much more customercentric view. We can achieve synergies in supply chain and credit management, for instance; use a common IT platform to manage the business; and create a global footprint to get products to their destinations efficiently and on time.”
Muntajat has been fully operational since the beginning of 2015, when the last products were brought on board in the form of alpha olefins and high- and mediumdensity polyethylene from Q-Chem. Now all grades of polyethylene are marketed by Muntajat under the Lotrène brand name, bringing higher visibility in the market and sourcing advantages to customers.
Relevant personnel from the producing companies were transferred across to Muntajat, including some from the foreign partners involved. “We were very selective in who we have taken,” says Al-Abdulla. “It was a challenging process but also a very interesting one. It has helped us to gain access to the market without any disturbance to our customers’ businesses.” The company now has more than 200 employees in its headquarters in Doha, Qatar.
“We are striving for richer interactions with our customers and stakeholders to bring more added value to our activities and to theirs”Dr Mark Betts
Now the business is fully up and running, says Betts, the main priority is to build a truly customer-focused organisation. “We want to get closer to our customers and bring more added value to our activities and to theirs. We also want to get the product closer to them and will utilise our global footprint to achieve this.”
Muntajat, he says, has already established port terminals in Singapore and Antwerp in Belgium, and has a series of warehouses spread across China, largely to handle its polymer sales in the country.
“Depending on customer requests we will add facilities in additional geographies so we are positioned closer to the customer,” thus, he explains, guaranteeing prompt delivery at all times.
Betts adds that Muntajat has begun to integrate its single IT platform with the producing companies and key supply chain partners, thus further enhancing the efficiency of its operations and helping secure supply of material and logistics arrangements.
“We are now well-positioned in the chemical marketing and distribution space after a relatively short period of time. We are one of the biggest players in what is seen as a growth area,” notes Betts.
“The business is also scalable and we will be able to take on more volume and more products, either as capacity is added in Qatar or as we distribute thirdparty materials as and when our customers find it useful.”
Indeed, the longer-term vision is for Muntajat to become the marketing leader in the chemical market. Says Al-Abdulla: “We want to become closer to the customer, both before and after the sale has been made and to maximise our value to producers and customers as well as the State of Qatar.”
Creation of an R&D centre in Qatar is one way to support innovation and product development on the producer side and to offer technical service capabilities to customers to achieve this in the future, Al-Abdulla says. But he stresses that there is already very close cooperation between Muntajat and the producing companies in this respect.
“For each and every product we have very close communication with producers in the development of the product and a technical committee that examines how to improve products and develop new ones. We also feed back any information that we are collecting from customers.”
He points out that Muntajat works very closely with the producing companies and can use facilities in their plants to offer technical support to customers when needed. Muntajat also keeps in very close communication with the producing companies concerning production schedules and planning.
“We have a team that works with each producer so we can coordinate on stock levels, production plans and lifting schedules.” There is also a supply chain committee for each of the main product groups handled – polymers, fertilizers and chemicals.
A third aim for 2016 and beyond is to build up Muntajat’s trading activities, whereby it buys and sells materials produced outside Qatar. It has already been active in this respect and in 2013 and 2014 traded some 100,000 and 400,000 tonnes of products, respectively, generating extra profits for the company.
Although these are still small quantities, says Al-Abdulla, “we feel they help us with our customers, by widening our offering and creating more loyalty, and with our suppliers”.
“There is still a lot to be achieved in terms of our goals and ambitions, but we are confident”Abdulrahman Ali Al-Abdulla
“There are benefits for all. Now that the migration of Qatari products is completed, our focus has shifted from stabilisation towards optimisation of our activities,” Al-Abdulla adds.
But, stresses Al-Abdulla, the first priority of the business is to promote the State of Qatar and maximise value to the producers we represent and the customers we serve.