#2 Arabia500 Winner from Algeria - NCA Rouiba

posted on Dec 14, 2011
NCA Rouiba, Algeria
Country Rank: 2
CEO: Mr. Slim Othmani
2008-2010 Standard Growth Rate: 75%
2010 Revenue Range ($): 50-200 Million
2010 Number of Employees: 401
Industry: Food Industries
Year Founded: 1966

Slim Othmani returned home to Algeria to join his family business in 1990 after studying mathematics and working for an IT company in Canada. NCA Rouiba was founded by his father and grandfather as a canned food company in 1966, and later expanded into fruit juices.

“When I came back to Algeria I noticed that everyone was focused on diversifying, when they hadn’t yet explored all of the growth opportunities in their core business area.” Othmani saw greater potential in a more focused business approach. When he took control of the company in 1998, Othmani shed the canned food operation in order to focus on one core business model. Today, NCA Rouiba is the number 1 juice firm by volume in Algeria and in the Maghreb, with annual turnover of $62m. Othmani has since founded seven other companies – including logistics, enterprise planning software, and beverage vending machines – but “each one is related to the core of what I am doing with NCA Rouiba.”

Othmani’s sense of ethics and focus pervades the business. He believes in a customer- oriented business philosophy, and a value proposition everyone can be proud of. “You need to make sure you respect the value that you are building in your company, which you are building your life around. You need to make sure that you are providing the consumer with the right value proposition.” When he introduced a customer-oriented perspective, “no one in the region was taking care of the customers, and the market was not developed at all. It was huge work internally, to change the mindset of the company, to have the right human resources and to make them customer-oriented. We started with a well-known brand but it didn’t fit with customer needs. Luckily, we had very young but very loyal employees.”

The firm’s values extend to customers, employees, and stakeholders. These include an emphasis on the quality of the product, innovation, leadership, commitment, health, and ethics. He insists that employees maintain a healthy work-life balance, and he has built a management team that is very motivated. “They like the way that I empower them and give them responsibilities. I push them to learn, and don’t blame them for failing, because for me that is part of life,” explains Othmani.

NCA Rouiba also prides itself on its corporate citizenship, and is one of six firms in the region taking part in a voluntary pilot of ISO 26000 standards pertaining to corporate social responsibility, with a focus on corporate communications. “Corporate communication is completely different than marketing,” says Othmani. “We are one of the only private firms voluntarily producing an annual report, which we share with our customers, employees, banks, and investors. We discovered that ISO 26000 is exactly what we wanted to do in terms of also communicating how we take care of our human resources, gender issues, and environmental issues in our company.” Othmani was also a founding member of the Algerian Corporate Governance organization.

Othmani doesn’t see challenges, only opportunities. In his opinion, there is a solution for everything from bureaucracy to human resource skills to poor infrastructure. “The life of a manager without challenges is not the life of a manager.” Running a business in Algeria is difficult, but you adapt, he explains, and this is one of the key strengths of the company. “If you want to start a business you have to be very focused. Yes, Algeria is difficult, but at the end of the year you can be proud of what you are doing, because you can see it in the figures of the company. We are trying to do everything the way we think is right, and we are succeeding as a team.”

Othmani plans to take NCA Rouiba public. “We want to enable our employees and our customers to share in the success of the company by owning shares of the company.” The strategy will also satisfy the exit strategy of investors, and help manage the involvement of shareholders who are growing older and want to make sure their successors support the firm. A final reason is to take part in national development. “We need to have a success story to revitalize the Algerian stock exchange. This will help our relationship with the administration, and we are still in an ecosystem where the company-government relationship is still very important.”