Bahrain Review

North Manama Causeway ... a key project for HHG.

North Manama Causeway ... a key project for HHG.

HHG enters 2015 with optimism

January 2015

BUOYED by the anticipated growth in the residential and real estate sectors due to strong demand for housing and equipped with new technology, modern machinery and highly qualified, experienced expertise, the Haji Hassan Group (HHG) of Bahrain is well poised to enter the New Year with renewed optimism.

The group has an impressive track record of high-profile construction projects in the kingdom. This includes the Sitra Causeway; Durrat Al Bahrain; the North Manama Causeway; runway upgrades and new apron stands at Bahrain International Airport; and the Sofitel Bahrain luxury resort hotel.

HHG is a diversified conglomeration of complementary businesses which has been serving the construction and industrial services sectors in Bahrain and the region since 1952.

At the heart of its business ethos are the words of its late founder Haji Hassan Bin Ali Al A’ali: “My loyalty is to my country and its people, first and foremost. The profit I make is a profit generated from the country and the people”.

The group’s current management team and workforce have inherited the late founder’s inspirational philosophy with integrity and transparency, a vital component of its business model as the revitalised and restructured HHG moves forward in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

“Despite several global downturns since 2008, the group has continued to record significant growth against the multiple challenges faced,” says Fouad Al Hamad, general manager, administration, HHG.

He points out that among the challenges are the highly competitive nature of the market, the economic environment in which the group operates, structural challenges and the ongoing need to enhance competencies.

Yet if any organisation is able to confront these challenges, it is HHG.

Headquartered in Bahrain and with joint venture partnerships across the region, it has been involved in some of the kingdom’s most prestigious infrastructure projects, from roads, bridges and flyovers to airport runways and real estate schemes.

North Manama Causeway ... a key project for HHG.

Fontana Towers ... an ongoing project.

Al Hamad says based on the guiding philosophy of the late founder, the group has a number of competitive advantages which are recognised in the construction and industrial services sectors, including innovative solutions, quality products and services, honesty and integrity, market reputation and bonds and partnerships which have been forged over decades.

“The group is run by the descendants of the late Haji Hassan, and they are armed with the same sense of commitment, innovation, community and responsibilities as him,” Al Hamad explains.

HHG is today a diverse organisation, with business units covering infrastructure development, manufacturing, construction, investments and other industrial services, many of which are certified to international ISO standards and mandated government specifications, and all of which have a common vision to maintain leadership positions in their distinct sectors.

“In practical terms that is delivered via various divisions which include manufacturers of asphalt, precast, ready-mix, blocks, pipes, tanks, reinforcements and engineering services,” Al Hamad notes, adding that in addition to being a well-known name in Bahrain, the group has also been spreading its wings to markets including Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the UAE, Oman and Qatar, typically in joint ventures with local firms.

“We have been successful in this strategic overseas expansion because we gained a deep understanding and knowledge of the markets into which we were moving and some of the success stories therein. This gave us the confidence and inspiration to establish joint ventures which led to the expansion of the group in other GCC countries,” he explains, adding that any future regional expansion of activities could involve moves into Saudi Arabia.

Investment will also form an important component of future strategy, in keeping with the entrepreneurial spirit of the late founder, with upgrades of technology and machinery to help spearhead the creation of new products and services for the construction side of the business.

“The strategic focus is to continue to reinvest in our established platforms for operational efficiency, product quality and customer service, and to develop these businesses further through bolt-on acquisitions which achieve vertical integration, bolster our strong long-term permitted reserves positions and fill out regional and product level positions,” Al Hamad explains.

“We will be concentrating on new technology, modern machinery and highly qualified, experienced expertise,” he adds.

Four Seasons hotel in Bahrain ... a major source of business.

Four Seasons hotel in Bahrain ... a major source of business.

The latter point is especially significant. Ensuring the group has the requisite skills and capabilities to support long-term ambitions is central to management thinking, as it always has been.

“Strategic HR (human resources) planning is an important component,” Al Hamad acknowledges. “It is about getting the right people with the right skills at the right time, to keep up with social, economic, and technological trends that impact human resources in our business sectors and moreover enable us to maintain a more flexible business model.”

Given the broad and solid foundations created, HHG appears justified in entering 2015 with optimism, including in Bahrain, where the group is what Al Hamad describes as an “iconic symbol”.

“We are the largest provider of construction services of excellence to both the public and private sectors in the kingdom,” he notes. “The residential and real estate sectors are well poised for growth due to strong local demand for housing, and we expect broader economic growth.”

HHG’s six-decade journey has been widely recognised. Accolades earned by HHG and its subsidiaries include Bahrain Rubber receiving the Prime Minister’s Award for Excellence in 1998, Bahrain Asphalt being awarded the infrastructure and pavement construction works for the First International Airshow held in Bahrain in 2010, and Haji Hassan Reinforcements receiving certificates of appreciation from Qatar Steel in 2013 and 2014.

2015 will also see the group elevate its marketing activities. As a high-level strategic sponsor of the gulfBID 2015, being held in Bahrain in May, it will present its credentials to a regional audience of decision-makers at one of the Northern Gulf’s leading B2B shows for the construction and contracting sectors.

“gulfBID provides an opportunity to demonstrate the technology, product awareness and spread the brand name and products. It also helps to monitor the latest technology and industry trends introduced by the exhibitors,” Al Hamad comments.

What started out as a simple business idea with a single stone crusher has blossomed over more than 60 years into a highly successful organisation. While the scope of the HHG business model has expanded greatly over the years, the multi-faceted group’s insistence on instilling ethical values and honesty into every project, a legacy of Haji Hassan Al A’ali, rings as true today as it always have done – and surely always will.

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