X-Rite Inc. Sees Growing Market for Color Measurement in the Middle East

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Coatings manufacturers worldwide are lining up to serve a new class of consumers in the Middle East who are young, sophisticated in their tastes, and ready to spend money to decorate their homes, shops and offices.

Our experience indicates that they tend to like bolder, brighter colors than European consumers. Like every part of the world, certain colors combinations become fashionable in the Middle East. For instance, paint manufacturers are telling us that variations of pink will be popular in the Middle East market now, replacing the popularity of kiwi green that has been so prevalent.

Coatings manufacturers worldwide are lining up to serve a new class of consumers in the Middle East who are young, sophisticated in their tastes, and ready to spend money to decorate their homes, shops and offices. Never was this more apparent than at the Middle East Coatings Show (MECS) held at the Dubai World Trade Centre in March.

Sales representatives of X-Rite Inc., the world's largest designer and manufacturer of color measurement equipment and software, said they experienced strong interest in the company's line of products by businesses involved in both new construction and home decoration.
"We are riding the tremendous wave of construction in the Middle East, which translates into greater demand for our paint matching and mixing products that maintain quality control for manufacturing," said X-Rite EMEA Sales Manager Peter Simmen. "Sales leads at the MECS were up 20 percent compared with what we experienced from the show last year in Cairo, and the quality of the leads and inquiries improved as well."

The MECS show is the main exposition for coatings companies that serve the Middle East.

Simmen said paint manufacturers are finding that they not only need to maintain tight precision on their processes to large-scale production projects, but they also must innovate on color selections to satisfy the cultural shift in countries such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia where consumers are spending more on interior design and trying do-it-yourself home decoration projects.

The main spark for the demand in coatings is new construction. Corporations involved in any aspect of the construction in the region of Gulf Co-operation Council -- Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman -- are straining to keep pace. The Dubai-based research firm of Proleads estimates there is more than $1 trillion (USD) worth of projects currently under construction or being developed, and it forecasts another $1.5 trillion (USD) worth of projects on the drawing boards for the region.

While China tops the world market in construction projects, the Middle East isn't far behind as countries with significant oil reserves plough revenues back into public works projects and private investment continues for hotels, resorts, offices and high rise residential projects.

All of the new construction bodes well for the decorative coatings market. Experts say that while the area accounted for only about 4 percent of the world's coatings market by value two years ago, the consumption of paint in the Middle East was one of the fastest growing markets worldwide. This comes at a time when growth in decorative coatings for the United States and Europe has been relatively flat, reflecting the relative slow market for new construction of homes and commercial buildings.

Simmen said paint manufacturers from countries all around the Near East, including nations such as India, Egypt, and Turkey, were interested in X-Rite products and software that are used to maintain the quality and consistency of large batches of paints and powder coating materials. Manufacturers are responding to the needs to supply large commercial projects where project managers, architects and designers have defined exact specifications for color, shade, texture and durability. X-Rite instruments are designed to measure colors more precisely than the human eye.

In addition to the soaring demand for paints to cover everything from the interiors of hotels to the exteriors of bridges, consumer demand for homeowners is growing at a rapid clip, Simmen said.

"Consumers in the Middle East are reaching new levels of sophistication in how they want their homes decorated," he said. "That demand in turn is pushing paint manufacturers to offer wider selections in shades, feel, texture, finish and durability."

One example of this new drive to satisfy discerning consumers is the announcement by Jotun Paints Inc. that it intends to establish a total of 100 "Inspiration Centres" in the Middle East this year. Jotun, one of the world's leading producers and suppliers of paints and coatings, opened its third Inspiration Centre in December in Dubai where customers can learn do-it-yourself methods to refurbish their living spaces, in addition to understanding the wide selection of products available.

ICI Dulux, a United Kingdom-based company that operates 50 factories in 25 countries, estimates that paint consumption in the United Arab Emirates alone is valued at about AED 630 million. ICI Dulux recently launched an exterior emulsion paint specifically formulated for the Middle East climate that holds up against ultraviolet rays, is moisture and crack resistant and maintains flame retardant properties. Like Jotun, ICI Dulux has launched its own line of decorator centers that offer computerized tinting services and color consultations in Qatar, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates.

"In general, Middle East consumers tend to be younger and willing to experiment with new color schemes," Simmen said. "Our experience indicates that they tend to like bolder, brighter colors than European consumers. Like every part of the world, certain colors combinations become fashionable in the Middle East. For instance, paint manufacturers are telling us that variations of pink will be popular in the Middle East market now, replacing the popularity of kiwi green that has been so prevalent."

Based on the experiences of manufacturers like Jotun and ICI Dulux, X-Rite is working closely with strategic partners such as Colorzone in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; Al Shihab Al Thahabi in Sharjah, UAE; and African Chemicals in Cairo, Egypt to supply the coatings industry with color measurement instruments and software packages.

"We predict that demand for color precise products in the Middle East will continue to grow strongly for the next several years, and we are developing proprietary instruments and software to meet that rising demand," Simmen said.

For more information on X-Rite, visit the company's website at http://www.xrite.com or write Peter Simmen at psimmen @ xrite.com.

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Matthew Gryczan
X-Rite Inc.
(616) 957-2000
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