Mars spends $140m on GCC factories expansion

By Eliot Beer

- Last updated on GMT

Mars spends $140m on GCC factories expansion

Related tags Saudi arabia United arab emirates Middle east

Chocolate maker Mars has invested a total of US$140m in new manufacturing facilities in Saudi Arabia and the UAE to increase production of its Galaxy and Snickers lines.

This month Mars formally opened its US$80m Saudi factory, based in King Abdullah Economic City, which will produce a range of Galaxy chocolate products for sale in the kingdom and across the region. Prior to opening its new facility, Mars imported its products to Saudi Arabia, and saw total sales of US$533m a year as of 2012.

Green and Saudi

Our products have been present in Saudi Arabia for over 30 years, and we are proud that they are among the Kingdom’s favourites. So, it is very exciting that we now employ Saudi nationals to manufacture the products right here​,” said Sami Darouni, president of Mars Middle East, Turkey and Africa.

This factory reaffirms our long term commitment to this market, and we are pleased to have the opportunity to invest in the development of local talent. In fact we have achieved platinum level in the Ministry of Labour’s Nitiqaat programme, which measures the percentage of Saudis employed by our business​,” he added.

The factory’s staff is made up of 60% Saudi national employees, with 40% expatriate workers – and Mars says it is exploring how to employ women on its production lines. The factory is also the first food manufacturing facility in the country to receive the green-building LEED Gold certification.

40,000 tonnes of Snickers

In the UAE, Mars completed a US$60m expansion of its existing Jebel Ali factory, opening a new line dedicated to the production of its Snickers product. The expansion will increase the facility’s total production by 40,000 tonnes a year, to a total of 100,000 tonnes, and has created an additional 50 jobs.

The openings of the new Mars Snickers bar line and the new KSA factory constitute new milestones in Mars’s continuous expansion and investment in the UAE, and the wider GCC. Since the beginning of our operations in this region over 40 years ago, we have constantly expanded our manufacturing facility and created jobs and superior products for the GCC market and beyond​,” said Darouni.

Our decision to invest US$140 million to expand our production facilities, which we are marking today, is the latest step in this process​,” he added.

Both factories will distribute their products across 30 countries in the Middle East, North Africa and the South Asian subcontinent, as well as in their domestic markets. Mars cited research suggesting the chocolate market in the MENA region will reach US$5.8bn by 2016.

Mars GCC’s expansion is an important step by the company to meet the growing demand of its clients in the Middle East, Africa and Turkey region. The increased production capacity strengthens the company’s presence in the regional emerging markets​,” said Salma Ali Saif bin Hareb, CEO of Economic Zones World and Jafza.