EBRD and EU support confectionery producer Maghreb Industries to improve marketing, export strategy and energy efficiency
It was in the 1950s when Mr Marrakchi’s grandfather started trading in confectionery. Back then, American soldiers who settled in North Africa brought with them a product which very few knew about – chewing gum. The skilful Marrakchi grandfather sensed the potential of the new product and started first to import chewing gum from the USA and then opened his own factory in Morocco in 1959.
Thanks to his entrepreneurial talent, the Marrakchi family grew to become one of the biggest producers of chewing gum and confectionery in Morocco. They are also one of the biggest exporters in Morocco; up to 70 per cent of their products are sold abroad.
The products range from original mint and fruit flavoured sweets and chewing gum, with the brands Flash and Yamy the most popular.
“The confectionery industry is changing all the time. We anticipate trends and have countless ideas for innovation, but one of our biggest challenges is to translate these ideas into reality,” explains Hakim Marrakchi, CEO of the company.
International advice for local businesses
Many of the 400 employees of Maghreb Industries have been long-term staff members – a sign of good management and corporate governance, which the company improved in recent years thanks to the support of the EBRD and the European Union.
With its Advice for Agribusiness programme, the EBRD helps companies adapt their strategies to new business needs and make their operations more sustainable and efficient. Maghreb Industries is an example of how the EBRD works with agribusiness companies by providing them with guidance and valuable international cross-cutting expertise.
For Claudia Wiedey, EU Ambassador to Morocco: "… competitiveness of the local economy is not only crucial for Morocco but also for the whole Euro-Mediterranean basin.The EU is happy to finance the EBRD’s Advice for Agribusiness programme and the energy efficiency facility (MorSEFF) in order to boost Moroccan SMEs’ productivity and job creation.”
Maghreb Industries’ objective was to modernise corporate governance and develop a new branding and export strategy. After matching the company with international consultants, with whom they have been working for over two years, the company improved its procedures, standards and protocols and is in the process of launching a new design for its packaging as well as a new website.
“One of the secrets of our success is that we are a family-owned company with a strong mission to continue and to improve the business and pass it over to the young generation. We don’t look only at immediate profit, but rather make long-term plans and investments,” explains Marrakchi.
Forward-looking strategy is why they decided to invest in another project which is considered to be revolutionary in Africa.
“I visited a confectionery factory in Belgium which was running on solar energy,” Marrakchi says. “And I thought to myself, if they can produce solar power in Belgium, where it rains all the time, then why can’t we do it in Morocco, where we have so much sun?”
With finance provided by the EBRD’s Finance and Technology Transfer Centre for Climate Change (FINTECC), Maghreb Industries was able to install a photovoltaic plant on the roof of its new factory, along with various energy-efficiency measures that have helped reduce the company’s energy costs by 60 per cent.
“Now we are covering 50 per cent of our electricity needs from solar energy. There is no energy waste,” explains Erriyadi Mounir, Project and Energy Manager. “We are one of the first companies in the region to have installed photovoltaic panels and the system for conversion of the energy. Now other companies come to us to seek advice.”
In addition to the EBRD’s loan to fund the construction of the new factory, FINTECC provided an incentive grant and technical support to implement a range of renewable energy and energy-efficient technologies.
“We are pleased to support one of the first agriculture companies which is using solar energy for its operations, here in southern and eastern Mediterranean region where agribusiness is an important employer and driver of local economies,” said Victoria Zinchuk, Acting Director, Head of Morocco.