Q&A with Al Fakher Tobacco CEO Samer Fakhouri

By Tom Wadlow

Samer Fakhouri is the CEO of Al Fakher Tobacco. He is also EICO’s Chairman of the board. In addition to his position in Al Fakher and EICO, Fakhouri held the position of General Manager of the International Tobacco & Cigarette Co. (ITC) in Amman – Jordan since 1995 and until EICO was founded in 2008. Under his command, ITC was sold to Philip Morris International in 2011.

Fakhouri’s experience in tobacco business extends beyond two decades. He is the driving force behind EICO’s acquisition and subsequent expansion of Al Fakher in 2006. Fakhouri holds a BBA from Oklahoma State University gained in 1993.

1.    How has Al Fakher progressed since you arrived?

Al Fakher has experienced tremendous growth since it was acquired in 2006. Distribution networks didn’t exceed 20 countries. Our distribution network now encompasses 85 countries and with presence in 150+ countries.

Manufacturing capacity has increased tremendously. Usage of technology was minimal compared to a high usage of best technology now. Al Fakher have partnered with the world best technological providers to combine their technologies with our platform setup to create complete solutions tailored to fit our high-end requirements

2.    What defines Al Fakher Tobacco? 

Leadership. Our Leaders are humble, they take their ego away, their ambition is for the larger cause, Visionary, adaptable to change, and can be change catalysts. 

Mentality. Our team have a winning mentality. We believe that Success is being the best in what we do and that Success is choice and discipline.

The team. Our team is empowered, motivated, engaged, enhanced, and enabled. We are a team, not just a group of people. 

Environment of truth and transparency. We have a climate where truth and not compliments are heard. People can speak up freely and will be heard. 

Simplicity. We simplify work. We don’t complicate things or processes. We work smarter, not harder.

Culture of discipline. People operate with freedom in a system of responsibilities. In a culture of discipline, people do not have "jobs", we have responsibilities.

3.    Tell me about the wider business strategy. What are your aims and ambitions for the coming years? 

Al Fakher focuses in maintaining its market leadership, through sourcing top quality ingredients, to produce premium products, and sell through a competitive pricing strategy, supported by aggressive marketing. We will focus on strengthening its premium offerings, unlocking new markets and M&A opportunities going forward, while maintaining operational and supply chain excellence. 

4.    How important a role does supply chain play in formulating this strategy? 

It’s all about Efficiency, and flexibility. Our supply chain is an essential element to our operational excellence. Our efficient supply chain enables al Fakher to be more competitive in the market place and helps controlling costs which maximizes our profits. 

Our flexible supply chain always aims to speed up products flows. It is fast in detecting and responding to short term requirements and in adapting to new strategies to support change in overall company or changing market dynamics. 

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Read the September 2016 issue of Business Review Middle East magazine



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