In the Middle East, the brand ‘Hertz’ has been a familiar sight for more than 25 years and ready to bring more of the innovative car rental services and technology in the region. In an interaction, Michel Taride, President, Hertz International shares his company’s further growth map in the Middle East.
Namita Bhagat (NB): Share the inception and development of Hertz International. What factors motivated you for brands’ expansion in Middle East?
Michel Taride (MT): The Hertz International Division embraces Europe, Middle East, Africa and the Asia Pacific, which are all Hertz regions outside of the Americas. Operating Hertz car rental, Advantage car rental, car sharing, equipment rental, and leasing, the Division was formally created upon my appointment as Hertz International President in January 2010.
In the Middle East, the Hertz brand has been a familiar sight for more than 25 years. We see the Middle East is an increasingly important market and want to bring more of the innovative car rental services and technology that we have already introduced elsewhere in the world to this region. We are keen to expand our footprint across the region and are looking to enter new markets for both our rent-a-car and equipment rental business.
NB: Currently, how many franchise locations do you already have in Middle East and what has been your experience there?
MT: For our car rental business, we have 11 franchise partners, representing the Hertz brand in Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. These franchise partners handle inbound, outbound and domestic car rentals.
Our partners have had a long-standing presence in the region, along with a wealth of experience and expertise.
NB: What kind of expansion strategy you are looking at for Middle East market?
MT: We have a long range regional investment plan designed to deliver increased support and infrastructure to our customers and partners as well as to our regional franchise partners to strengthen the Hertz offering in the region. As part of this strategy, we opened an office in Dubai at the start of last year, which is headed by Regional Commercial Director, Gina Costa, to support our car rental franchise partners. Airline partnerships and the travel trade are key components of our strategy. We have excellent partnerships with Middle Eastern airlines including Emirates, Etihad Airways, Middle Eastern Airlines, Oman Air, Qatar Airways, Saudi Arabian Airlines and others in the pipeline. We are also building a strong General Sales Agent network across the region.
We also have an expansion strategy for our equipment rental business. This includes our entry last year into a Joint Venture with Saudi Arabia-based Dayim Holdings Company Ltd. to set up equipment rental operations in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The new joint venture entity rents and sells equipment and tools to construction and industrial markets throughout the KSA. Our General Manager for the Hertz Equipment Rental Corp. in the Middle East is Francis J. Early who is based in Bahrain.
NB: What were the considerations for expanding in Middle East especially in terms of government regulations and authorities?
MT: We work with high quality partners who are part of financially solid, reputable groups, have strong local market knowledge, and run synergistic businesses to ours. An excellent example of all these attributes is our partner Al Futtaim in the UAE.
NB: What kind of business environment does Mid-East offer to businesses/franchisors looking to expand their operations in the region?
MT: Many of the countries in the region are emerging and offer a wonderful opportunity for the brand to be developed. Obviously there are challenges within any emerging market, however our Franchises receive guidance and support from within the Hertz network to help make their businesses a success.
NB: What is the USP of your franchise concept?
MT: Our franchisees enjoy the benefit of the Hertz global brand, our global customers, and our partnership base, along with opportunities to participate in our car rental, car sharing and equipment rental businesses. Our commercial office in Dubai also offers local support.
NB: What advice would you like to give to the entrepreneurs and investors seeking expansion Middle East?
MT: The region is dynamic and changing rapidly. Embrace the opportunities within the region and take full advantage of the benefits that a brand such as Hertz can bring to a Franchise partnership. Hertz is keen to partner with investors and entrepreneurs who have the same vision and business values.