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Ramzi El-Houchaimi

ANGOLA - Industry

Ramzi El-Houchaimi

CEO, Grupo IMEX

Bio

Ramzi El-Houchaimi has a bachelor’s in business administration from AIU London. After graduating in 2000 he worked in banking before spending over a year in Gabon working for a family business. He later moved to Angola and is currently CEO of Grupo IMEX.

"We started in 2002 and started with the production of auto-molding water tanks of different sizes."
Grupo Imex uses only the finest machines in its production, whether that is the assembly of home appliances or the manufacturing of packaging materials.
What have been the main activities of Grupo IMEX since its foundation?

We started in 2002 and started with the production of auto-molding water tanks of different sizes. In 2006, we did a joint venture with the Webcor Group, and we merged two business together—the production of water tanks and the production of foam mattresses. We later opened our first factory in the province of Benguela in 2008 for water tanks and mattress production. This led to our first factory for foam mattresses in Huambo in 2010. Fast forward to 2012, we decided to consolidate all our businesses in Luanda onto one site, so we built our premises and offices and invested in new machinery and technology for these products. At the same time, we also invested in Lobito and Huambo. We built our own site and invested in new machinery. In 2008, we also established our first factory for paint and all things related to construction. Later in 2018, we invested in our first factory for packaging material, namely 50-kg woven bags that we sell to the producers of cement, flour, sugar, fertilizers, and so on. In 2021, we built a new factory that triples our current capacity for woven bags; in fact, it is one of the biggest in sub-Saharan countries. Today, our main businesses include woven bags, mattresses, paint, and water tanks.

Grupo IMEX has diversified into different products and activities. Who are its target market, and what are their main needs?

Our paint production is more of a B2B business, while mattresses are more of consumer-facing good that we sell to furniture stores and so on. Our water tanks and PVC pipes are targeted at construction material companies. We also opened a new factory for mattresses in 2021 in Cabinda. We are opening smaller factories in the provinces because transporting mattresses around the country else entails a great deal of freight, so it is better to just produce them in each of these provinces. At the same time, we also have our retail stores where we sell our mattresses. Three years ago, we also started distributing the home appliances of a brand called Beko, including ACs, fridges, cookers, and more. We have 10 stores in Luanda and five in the provinces where we sell both mattresses and home appliances. The goal of this distribution is to eventually develop a partnership with Beko to assemble these products locally. In September, we started our first assembling units for ACs, fridges, and hobs.

Grupo IMEX is applying new technologies to its products. What innovations and technologies have you brought in?

For each product that we produce, we always acquire our machines from Europe or Asia. We want to use the best machines in our production. In the home appliances sector, we have a joint venture with Beko; it develops the home appliances, and we are just there to assemble and sell them here. It is a Turkish group, and it does a great deal of development on its end. It has the biggest factory in South Africa, and it operates in Africa, Asia, and the US. We are also working closely to make sure these products are of a high quality.

What is the future of Grupo IMEX?

Our aim is for the company to keep growing and be a leader, at least in some of the products that we produce. We want to make sure the company continues to grow. We are the first company in Angola to implement the Kaizen methodology four years ago, which has to do with continuous improvement. Our factories are extremely well organized in order to ensure we are more competitive and working at a higher level. In industry, it is not just about machinery, raw material, and the team; you also need a methodology to work properly. Kaizen is also being used in other factories in Angola, and this increases the overall standards and helps us be more efficient.

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