LAVA eyes 40% growth in GCC mobile phone market

Dubai: Indian mobile phone manufacturer Lava has set a five-year plan to attain five per cent market share in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, according to a senior company executive.

It was the fastest growing Indian smartphone brand globally in 2015. According to Counterpoint Research, Lava registered a growth of 214 per cent globally in 2015, which is the highest for growth globally for any Indian brand in the smartphone category.

But due to the emergence of Chinese brands like Oppo and Vivo, Lava is currently placed fourth in India with a market share of 8.6 per cent of the overall handset market in the second quarter of this year, according to Counterpoint Research.

Mohammad Khizar Ulla, head of Middle East business at Lava International, told Gulf News that the company has sold 500,000 devices in the GCC countries, excluding Saudi Arabia, in just 14 months of its operations.

“Other big players have taken five to six years to achieve the numbers we attained in just 14 months. About 72 per cent of the sales are coming in from the UAE, 17 per cent from Qatar, six per cent from Kuwait, three per cent from Bahrain and two per cent from Oman,” he said. “We want 50 per cent of our business to come from other GCC countries, instead of the current 30 per cent. We still have more to do in this region.”

“Our regional target for this year is to grow 40 per cent this year. You need to cater to the changing demand of customers and have different strategies for different markets,” he added.

Ulla expects year-on-year Gitex sales to grow in three digits. There are more than 70 mobile phone brands, including OEMs (original equipment manufacturers), operating in the UAE.

“We are rubbing shoulders with some of the top brands in the retail shelves. Our growth is very organic and consolidated and we have never spent more on advertising to buy market share. We want to develop and grow the brand,” he said.

Lava is growing where there are expat population in countries such as Bangladesh, Nepal, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Philippines and Indonesia.

With this Gitex, he said the company is looking at business opportunities in Egypt and Iran.

Ulla said that about 60 per cent of the market is driven by price segment of below $250.

“Our focus is on products below $200 price point. We are targeting the right segment and our focus will be on this price segment. We want to make ourselves strong in this segment and sustain the growth,” he said. “2015 was a good year for us in India also. We sold an average of 2.2 million mobile phones, including 600,000 smartphones. Out of India, we sold an average of one million phones per month.”

The company sold 35 million units in total in 2015, including 10.7 million overseas sales, and achieved revenues of $1.1 billion in fiscal 2015, registering more than 100 per cent growth over fiscal 2014.