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Andrzej Bekisz

General Manager, GSK Consumer Healthcare Saudi Arabia

Khalil Yassine

Head of Arabia, Unilever

Multinationals see in Saudi Arabia a growing, increasingly sophisticated market with limitless opportunities.
How are you supporting the growth and development of the country?

ANDRZEJ BEKISZ We believe that our objective of making everyday health more accessible and achievable for millions in Saudi Arabia is in line with Kingdom’s vision of 2030. Better availability of self-care products without need of prescription will help to improve quality of life and the everyday better health of individuals. In this regard, we will localize Panadol manufacturing in Saudi Arabia and share our global expertise with local organizations. We believe this initiative will improve availability of our products that Saudi consumers trust.

KHALIL YASSINE The entire regional ecosystem serving Unilever in Saudi Arabia is home to over 3,000 talented individuals. But we have around 420 employees directly recruited at Unilever locally, 50% being Saudis. That means we are driving the local agenda of developing local talent, which is non negotiable to Unilever because we had it since 2001 when we relocated our head office from Dubai to Saudi. We are proud to have had the benefit of great leaders in our organization. They have also developed their career beyond Unilever in top-notch positions within the government and in neighboring countries. Now we want to inject more Saudi talent. We have a clear strategy focusing on local Saudis, empowering women, and securing them equal positions in our organization. In 2018, we had a 6% female employee rate. Nowadays, the percentage is 20%, and, honestly, I aim for 50%.

In what areas are you investing?

AB We are investing in oral healthcare awareness in Saudi Arabia with the aim to touch and change millions of lives by offering solutions from kids to denture users with our powerful brands such as Sensodyne, Parodontax, Aquafresh, and Corega. In February 2022, we launched the Healthy Saudi Smile campaign to raise awareness about the importance of oral healthcare as there is great potential to improve the oral healthcare of the Saudi population. According to recent studies conducted in KSA, only 7% of the Saudi population regularly visit the dentist, and on average Saudis change their toothbrush around twice a year. Our main motive in this campaign was to reach out to dentists and consumers with a 360-activation plan and educate everyone about oral healthcare and increase the number of people with healthy and confident smiles.

KY Our portfolio in KSA consists of personal care (skin cleansing, oral care, and deodorants), beauty and wellbeing (hair care and skin care), home care (fabric cleaning and conditioning, dishwashing, home, and hygiene), and foods and ice cream. There has been a considerable shift in consumer buying preferences during the last two-three years, primarily impacted by COVID-19. Personal care and beauty and wellbeing remain our key drivers for growth with our biggest categories being hair care, which is growing ahead of the market, and face care, which is also showing good recovery after the business was severely impacted during the COVID-19 period. Two-thirds of the Saudi population are aged below 35. Those people give great value to personal beauty: all products related to this segment are driving our growth in the country.

What are your main goals for 2022?

AB 2022 is a landmark year for GSK. We’re on an incredible journey to separate and create two leading UK-based companies, each with the ability to improve the health of millions of people around the world. We will create a new world leader, with a focus on consumer healthcare, with category-leading brands based on deep human understanding and trusted science. It will be a leading global company with a portfolio of vaccines, specialty and general medicines, and R&D based on science of the immune system and genetics.

KY We want to do more good for our planet and our people. Continuing with our drive for localization and maximizing “Made in KSA” exports, we have recently kicked off an ambitious journey to expand our industrial and logistics operation in the country. We also will continue to invest in empowering local talent and providing them with future fit skills as well as empowering Saudi women to achieve more.

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