Jamal H. Maraqa
Sun Innovations from Russia has opted for franchise model to develop its unique printing concept namely ‘Sun Studio’. In an interaction, Jamal H. Maraqa, CEO/MD, PROTECHnology, brand’s master franchise partner, shares his expansion plans in the Middle East and Africa.
Namita Bhagat (NB): Brief us on the origin of ‘PROTECHnology’. How has been the journey so far?
Jamal H. Maraqa (JHM): PROTECHnology is originally an IT company having presence in the region for 14 years now. We started the business of computers like; offering IT solutions in 1998. Our Head Office is in Dubai. We started expanding by opening branches in different countries to extend our services and expertise that we have developed over the years. By 2002-03, we were doing even those branches in franchising way. We contacted investors in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Libya and Iran and informed them about our intention to expand our expertise, knowledge and know how. We provided our investors everything ready including our identity, back ground, expertise and marketing tools. We opened these branches via franchising.
NB: How did you expand PROTECHnology franchise?
JHM: Over the years, under the name of PROTECHnology we have developed several solutions based on different products from US companies like Nexsan, Symantec, Qualstar etc. We deal with different companies or ventures. However, the selling point or strength of this franchise is that we could integrate different brands / products in the name of our company; and develop solutions for clients that work for his business and applications.PROTECHnology was expanded to the above mentioned countries under its own name.
NB: The company has now partnered with ‘Sun Studio’. What were the motivating factors for you to associate with the brand?
JHM: We at PROTECHnology have partnered with the Russian company called Sun Innovations for distribution of their products in Middle East and Africa region. This company mainly manufactures inkjet/UV led printers and a unique printing ink which can be used in the printing machines. They have a factory for manufacturing these products in Siberia in Russia. These are the two main activities of the company. We found their products i.e. printing machines and ink having unique abilities and features very interesting. So we signed up with them two years ago as their partners and distributors in the region. Later Sun Innovations started its new division or company called Sun Franchise or 'Sun Studio'. It is based on the concept of using this printing machine and applications for interior decoration and building material industry. The printer can print on any material including water surfaces and mirrors with a 3D embossed effect.
NB: Kindly elaborate on the nature of the partnership. What are your plans for growing the brand in the region?
JHM: Based on their market knowledge and the way the company has developed its knowhow in printing technology, Sun Innovations decided to develop this concept of Sun Studio via franchising. It is a separate company called Sun Franchise. We have signed with Sun Franchise to be their Master Franchise in the Middle East and Africa. We launched Sun Studio's first centre in Dubai in June 2011. We have sold one franchise in Oman which is expected to start operations within coming three months. Also, one location will open in Muscat very soon with many others in the pipe line. We wish to have at least one Sun Studio in every major city in the Middle East and even in Africa. We hope to reach an agreement soon in Cairo and Libya. We are receiving lot of interest from different countries.
NB: Could you share the capital outlay for the franchisees seeking to have ‘Sun Studio’ in the east region?
JHM: Based on our study in the region, we believe an investment of USD 200,000 to 300,000 is required; that will include machines, equipment, place, decoration etc. The range is due to variable cost of rent, salaries in different cities but with this capital, franchisee can start its operations.
NB: What are the significant factors to be considered before expanding a franchise business?
JHM: As Master Franchisee, we always consider putting details in the right perspective for implementation. Also, marketing as well as good practical work is needed. The companies should be well prepared to sell their concepts to the investors. Secondly, the legal framework needs to be considered and we need to be ready with legal terms and make them clear to the investor. Moreover, a good business set up that includes the right resources and the right people to support the franchisees that are having trust in us and are putting their money into such concepts. This is because the franchisee needs lot of support in initial stages.
NB: What is the scope of printing technology industry in the Middle East?
JHM: The printing industry is growing big especially the space in which ‘Sun Studio’ operates i.e. printing on any material or ceramics. It has so many applications in different industries like; the decoration business, building material business and so on. So we see a great scope and success for people who are getting involved in this business. We offer a concept what we call ‘business with leisure’. In this business your creativity and innovation will be utilised unlike many other business. It’s a business concept which has no limits for creativity and gives great success and return in investment.
NB: What is your advice for the region’s prospective franchisees seeking partnership with the international brands?
JHM: One should have enough understanding of the business or concept as today there are so many ideas for franchising. You need to really do your home work, understand the potential of such business and the competition. In addition to this, you need to check the reliability of the source and the brand. There are many incidents where you have a nice idea/product but people behind it were not so solid or professional in their implementation. When you are paying fees, you need a concept that will work for you.
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