Global Brand with Local Reach

Filed on October 3, 2021
Neelivethil Rajeev, Managing Director, ESPA (Middle East and SAARC)

ESPA has established itself as a prominent player over the last three decades in the UAE

We catch up with Neelivethil Rajeev, Managing Director, ESPA (Middle East and SAARC), one of Europe's leading brands in the field of hydro pneumatics, pools, waterscapes and pumps as they enter their fourth decade of operations in the region. Rajeev, as many would recognise, has been a familiar face in the UAE for the last 30 years and has received the coveted Golden Visa. He is known for his associations with a number of professional and social bodies including:

- Ambassador for International Federation of Interior Architects / Designers (IFI) a singular world federation for the discipline’s design communities, policymakers, experts and enthusiasts.

- Director International Affairs of Indian Plumbing Skills Council (IPSC), which is the apex sector Skill Council for the Plumbing Industry under the aegis of NSDC with the Government of India.

- National Vice president (Trade) of Institute of Indian Interior Designers (IIID).

Tell us about your's and ESPA’s journey globally and in the UAE?

It is indeed a great milestone for us in terms of making the region one of the most important markets for ESPA and I guess I am just fortunate to be at the helm during this journey. ESPA is a company based out of the beautiful city of Girona in Spain. We manufacture our products in Spain but operate around the world with our subsidiaries out of which I manage the Middle East and SAARC subsidiaries where we already have a head start in the retail market and are now spreading into the project market. We are proud to see our products being used in most of the major projects in the UAE like the Sky View Towers, City Walk, Vida Residence, Jumeirah Gate, Mira Oasis, Al Falah Villas, Arabian Ranches and many more.

What ESPA products and applications are core of its business?

We predominantly operate in the field of hydro pneumatics, pools, waterscapes and pumps primarily catering to the construction sector.

What is ESPA’s USP?

We as a company believe in satisfying our customers. Hence for us, warranty and guarantee are not just the number of years but hinges mainly on genuine customer satisfaction. So, our unique selling point (USP) has always been competitive pricing, technical competence and effective after-sales service. There will be many in the UAE who will vouch for the efficacy of this USP.

Owing to the pandemic, how has the water management industry fared in the last two years?

The Covid-19 pandemic has played hide and seek throughout the world and any euphoria that we had on getting back to normalcy has been thwarted time and again by the new variants of the virus, which seems to mutate faster than our collective efforts to put an end to it. In the process, it has destroyed even more livelihoods and brought our grand plans to rejuvenate a slacking industry to a grinding halt. However, the huge vaccination drive by the authorities have seen many industries limp back to pre-Covid-19 eras in the last couple of months and we are optimistic that we shall defeat this grave threat to humanity in the coming weeks. In fact, the UAE is being freed of Covid-19 now and shall only get better.

Of course, the water management industry, like any other industry, had its share of turmoil. But I would like to think that despite a reduction in turnover, we managed to keep our core activities and customer base strong and today, we are pleased to have achieved the pre-pandemic levels of business. I would like to add here that the proactive stance of the UAE government has a major role in getting businesses back on track.

What do you think of the Expo 2020 Dubai and what would be the role of ESPA for the same? How do you think it will positively affect the UAE and the Middle East?

Expo 2020 Dubai is not a product exhibition per se but is rather more about countries displaying potential resources, skills, manufacturing abilities, cuisine, technology, soft skills etc. We shall be treating Expo 2020 as a great opportunity to network with the country pavilions as we see this as an ideal platform for us to expand our reach and range into hitherto untapped markets so yes, we shall be quite active during the period. Just consider, how a meeting place of 192 countries figures in a world that has been under various stages of lockdown for the past two years; and you have your answer about the kind of opportunity this presents for Dubai and the world in general. We have also offered our company support to few country pavilions.

What is the vision for ESPA post Expo 2020 Dubai?

The brand ESPA has been in this country for the last 30 years and after operating across the Gulf I would say that the UAE remains one of the most positive and growth-oriented markets for us globally. Adverse conditions like the pandemic, exchange rate fluctuations etc. happen n all markets but the way UAE has fought and tried to bring back the country to normalcy is an incentive for companies like ours to continue investing in it and use the access it permits us for the Middle-East and Asian markets. Post the Expo, we see ourselves making forays into new markets as I have already mentioned and we also plan to increase our footprint in the UAE by considering a new manufacturing base in the country to add to our assembling facilities. That would be our way of showing our gratitude to the government for its investor-friendly policies and brilliant handling of the crisis. The vision of this government for the future years is really commendable.

Lastly, we would like to wish the citizens and authorities the very best for Expo 2020 Dubai.

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