Ziad Abdel Nour, general manager of Universal Trading Company (UTC), discusses market trends, trade challenges, how kitchens are the heart of any home, and the brand’s expansion plans.
What are the high points of your professional career?
In my professional career, I’ve had several high points.
In the UAE, I began my career as a sales manager in the fit-out industry with Cloisall Company. For three years in a row, I was named Best Producer in Sales Achievement.
Within five years, I was promoted to sales director, responsible for all sales operations in the UAE, Qatar, and Oman.
Of course, being in my current position at Universal Trading Company (UTC) is a highlight because I’ll be able to leverage all of the industry relationships I’ve developed to help the company grow. It’s a great place to work, and our market presence is well-established as a result of our relationships. We’ve been able to grow tremendously in the UAE the last three years.
Explain briefly how UTC works with Nolte Küchen.
Universal Trading Company is the exclusive distributor for Nolte Küchen in the UAE. We operate three Nolte Küchen showrooms in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Al Ain.
Nolte is a German-made product and also Germany’s #1 kitchen brand. We’re proud to represent the brand in the UAE because it truly is a superior and innovative product with beautiful design elements.
At UTC we have a full portfolio of German appliances as well. We admire the quality, innovation, and attention to detail that German-made products have. We distribute AEG, IGNIS, and Deutz – all premium appliances and machinery that are some of the best in the industry.
What elements play into UTC’s designs?
One of the many things that make our kitchen designs so special is the innovation and technology that goes into the products. There are many excellent German-made kitchen brands but the ones we work with stand out because they seamlessly merge innovation with a sleek design. Even with features that offer more storage space and better capabilities, the finished product still gives a modern compact look. Our portfolio of brands is not just functional manufacturers that produce the kind of world-class quality that German products are known for, they also all have beautiful design elements.
What are your thoughts on the kitchen industry in this region compared to other parts of the world?
The UAE is known for being forward-thinking and at the forefront of design ideation. Beautiful interior design is seen everywhere – from private villas to restaurants, and coffee shops, to large residential projects. We see that respect for beauty in every project and kitchen we do.
Family and relationships mean so much in this region so people take pride in having homes that are beautiful but still feel inviting. With our customers, we can bring warmth into their kitchen spaces while also honouring the appealing design elements that we appreciate so much in this region.
Is logistics a problem when sourcing products from Germany? Do you have a manufacturing facility in the Middle East?
One of the best things about working with a brand like Nolte is that the company has nearly a century of experience that yields seamless logistics. All the products are manufactured from the company’s production facilities in Germany. This allows the company to control efficiency and quality.
All of our appliance brands, AEG, IGNIS, and Deutz, are also 100% made in Germany. These brands have years of experience in manufacturing their products in their facilities.
When the products arrive in the UAE, we take care of the installation process from beginning to end. It’s one of the reasons we’ve had such success in the market. We know customers want to be able to deal directly with a company where they are.
(Working) from home has become more popular as a result of COVID-19 and families are spending more time together than ever before. What types of kitchen requests do you receive from customers now?
Having multi-functional spaces is more important than ever. Families want to be able to live in the kitchen – it’s always been the heart of the home and now so more than ever. Having a place where people can cook, dine, work and entertain is a priority and with our design and innovation, it’s possible.
One of the great things about UTC is that we’ve been with this community for a long time. People know that they can come to us and we’ll listen to their needs and also work with them to design a kitchen space that exceeds their expectations. We’ve built an excellent reputation in that area.
What does the future of kitchen design look like?
We’re seeing kitchens that are becoming a part of open space designs, merging effortlessly with living areas. It’s not something that has been particularly typical of kitchens in the Middle East but as California-style homes become more prevalent in the region, we’ll see more airy designs and open floor plans.
What is the most difficult aspect of setting up the kitchen?
We’re professionals and have been in this industry for years. Things of course come up but we always find a solution and a way to make our customers happy. Honestly, the most difficult part for our customers is picking an option! Nolte and our appliance brands all have extensive options and finishes that there’s truly something for any taste or preference.
How do you keep your team motivated while also demonstrating your leadership skills?
We’re blessed to have a great team. At UTC, we have sales professionals, designers, and logistics team members that are truly the best in the business. They are already motivated because they are so passionate about what they do.
I can lead and direct our team because I believe they understand our goals and values. I know that whenever we need to pivot or solve a problem, they will do what is best for the company, our customers, and our partners.
Do you anticipate any new launches or segments from the brand in the coming months?
We’re re-opening our Nolte Abu Dhabi showroom in a few short weeks. We’re excited about it and we look forward to the community seeing the new showroom and all the gorgeous kitchen and appliance options that we offer.
Where do you see the future taking you, especially with regard to both general design and the direction of Nolte?
When I think about Universal Trading Company’s and my own future, I want to be able to look back in a year, five years, and 10 years and know that we were a positive and strong presence in the market.
We already have an excellent reputation, but there is always room for us to grow, expand, and form new relationships. I’m very excited to be a part of it.