- Khalid Salamat
Leading marketing professional Khalid Salamat has many years of experience in the GCC, Levant and Pakistan markets, gained with MNCs like Unilever, PZ Cussons, Kraft Foods and Colgate Palmolive. He started his career with Lever Brothers in Pakistan and then moved to Smith and Nephew, managing the Nivea business across the country. Khalid undertook his first overseas assignment in the late 80s with Unilever Arabia, where he worked as Consumer Products Manager in the UAE and subsequently in Saudi Arabia. He was sent to Jordan to work as General Manager of Spinney’s between 2007 and 2010. In his present role as Vice President of HBG, he is responsible for developing the company’s consumer products and health and wellness businesses across the region and identifying acquisition/investment targets in retail, manufacture and distribution.
He speaks to Enterprise in this exclusive interview:
What is your main area of expertise? How would you describe yourself?
My core competency has always been marketing from a perspective of personal proclivity as well training and orientation. The work I have done encompasses a range of diverse FMCG projects over a span of 25plus years in different markets such as the UAE, KSA, GCC and Levant, specifically Jordan. The journey began in Pakistan with Unilever. My present role with HBG Holdings involves connecting the dots, which is identifying a product/brand that satisfies a consumer need, then finding the best ‘fit’ for the brand owner by screening, identifying and selecting a suitable business partner and formulating a strategy that delivers results for both. The process does not stop here, but goes on to facilitate business development over a long term period.
I would describe myself as a quintessential marketer, who has developed knowledge in business strategy as well as operations through a variety of roles with blue chip companies like Unilever (Pakistan and Arabia), Kraft Foods, ColgatePalmolive, PZ Cussons and Spinney’s in Business Development, Brand Building, Research & Analysis, Sales, Distribution and General Management. I enjoy working with multicultural teams and am passionate about the assignments I undertake.
How has your experience been in the Middle East/GCC market compared to your experience in Pakistan?
Middle East is very different than Pakistan from many standpoints and even within the Middle East and GCC, there are inter-market dissimilarities.
Whilst it is far more competitive in the GCC than in Pakistan in every sense, the disposable incomes and spending power are high. Greater competition also means larger exposure to a variety of international products and services. The UAE in particular has a multicultural consumer base, which makes the task of making your offering appealing to a diverse group of consumers. The other side of the coin is that within the big pie exist ethnic market segments which can be targeted quite effectively if the marketer does his homework. In Pakistan, you are dealing with a homogeneous consumer base, with far lesser dissonance within it. Because of the huge consumption base, getting a critical mass is relatively easier in Pakistan. If a brand owner gets his act right only in Karachi, Lahore and Rawalpindi/Islamabad (collectively around 40 million people) success in the rest will follow in due course. Though reaching the target audience is challenging due to proliferation of media in recent years.
The trade dynamics are completely different too. Besides, in the Middle East the infrastructure to serve