Here’s what the leading experts have to say about the paints industry and what lies in the future

The paints and coating industry is everevolving and dynamic. Talking about this region, on a macro level recent price-hikes in raw materials have meant that costs of production for paint manufactures have increased across the board. This has lead to increases in retail prices for most popular paint products in the market. Yahya Ilyas, sales manager from Benjamin Moore Middle East, explains: “To add to this, sluggish construction growth and restricted project budgets have forced paint brands to release new ‘economylines’, which are competitive in terms of price but compromise on standard features such as hiding and durability. Moving to the microlevel consumers continue to become more educated on the paint products they purchase and apply in their homes. This has translated to a growth in sales of environmentally friendly paints and higher quality paints that are more washable and durable than standard offerings.

Middle East’s inclement conditions
The regional manufacturing sector in the Middle East has its unique set of opportunities and challenges. On the positive side, it is still a relatively low-cost proposition to manufacture regionally compared to Europe, in addition to good availability of human resources. Challenges are usually linked to the prevailing climatic conditions in the Middle East, as they have a significant impact on the way products are manufactured and shipped (either for import or for shipping from manufacturing location to the customer). Jasbir Gill, AkzoNobel regional director Middle East & Africa, says: “Temperature control is a very important factor for performance coatings. Lack of temperature control during transportation and manufacturing can make product non-usable. AkzoNobel tackles this challenge through very strict protocols for storage and transportation for temperature-sensitive products. Comprehensive temperature-sensitive material storage and handling process was developed by AkzoNobel and all the relevant personnel are trained in the process.”
Most high-quality exterior paints manufactured by a reputable brand should be able to withstand the inclement weather conditions of the Middle East. The metrics to judge exterior paint are resistance to colour fading and blistering.

Viero by Al Gurg Paints

The high demand for green paints
With an increasing awareness of eco-friendly paints, there’s a great demand for green low Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) paints. VOC are harmful gasses that are emitted during painting and up to three weeks after painting has been completed. Vinayak Kumar, general manager, Al Gurg Paints, says: “We are going green, by not only focussing on what goes in the can such as promoting low VOC products but also taking a more holistic view on our manufacturing processes by using recycled solvents because sustainability is at the core of our operations. Since paint is a chemical-based product and cannot be completely green we are educating our customers to switch from solvent-based to water-based low VOC paints.” Ilyas stresses: “Green paints do come with a higher price tag, but more than make-up for it with superior features such as high washability, durability, and mildew resistance.”

The hardships!
Gill feels that the outlook for our ME Paints and Coatings markets is positive in both the short and medium-term. He further adds: “This follows some challenging months when infrastructure spending had been curtailed, consumer confidence was reduced, and we faced double-digit inflation for some of our key raw materials. As a company, we were very agile in adapting to these challenges and are now well placed across all segments to benefit from the market upturn.” The paint industry is undergoing a transformation. Kumar comments: “There have been players who came early and acquired the market share. Besides, a lot of international and local players are eyeing the same slice of the market share. For a developing brand like Oasis, the competition creates barriers due to its huge presence in the market.” Ilyas further feels: “Lack of liquidity in the construction market has meant most painting contractors are apprehensive when taking on large-scale projects. Downward pressure on rates contractors can charge in current conditions means reduced workmanship, which reflects poorly on the paint as well.”

New launches
A recent trend in the paint industry is limebased products, however, very few paint companies offer this range. Kumar shares: “In order to be at the forefront, we recently partnered with Viero to provide our clients with exclusive, Italian based designer textures, suitable for feature walls. Viero products are lime-based, highly functional and sustainable which makes it an excellent fit for many architectural and contemporary design visions. Giorgio Armani himself selected specially designed Viero products for the Armani Residencies at Burj Khalifa.” From Benjamin Moore brand, two new products from are available—Scuff-X: a paint that is immune to scuff marks, and NOTABLE: a long-lasting dry erase paint that can convert any surface into a writeable one.

Promising projects
Benjamin Moore is focussed on the UAE’s luxury hospitality segment as the moment. The upcoming Expo 2020 means that most premium hotels will be operating near full capacity through to 2021. “We are helping hotels upgrade the paints and coatings they use to more durable products, while simultaneously helping them reduce their maintenance costs. This is important in a time when future increases in ADR (Average Daily Rates) are still uncertain. We are also currently working on a couple of towers coming up in the Opera District, Downtown Dubai. Another exciting project we are involved in is SeaWorld Abu Dhabi,” tells Ilyas. Al Gurg Paints is presently focussing on the GCC region, specifically Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait, KSA, and Iraq. Africa is very much on their radar for further expansion. Kumar says: “Some of our recent projects is the Royal Atlantis Hotel, Palm Tower, Central H2B Hotel and four buildings with FNC, for which we supplied Oasis paints. Viero has already received acceptance amongst the residential market in the UAE and now the brand’s demand is growing in our B2B segment.” For the Expo 2020 Al Wasl Plaza project, AkzoNobel will provide primer (Interzinc 52), mid-coat (Interzone 954), and finish coat (Interfine 979) for the dome to ensure that the structure, which will be lit up resplendently at night, will maintain the same aesthetic appeal and shimmer throughout the period of the Expo and beyond. AkzoNobel also provided heat-reflective super durable powder coating for the Dubai Solar innovation Centre.

Aldar HQ circular building in Abu Dhabi