Aujan: a billion dollar business

Aujan Industries, the biggest independent drinks producer in the Middle East, has agreed to sell about half of its drinks business to Coca-Cola. Four months before the deal was announced July, John Nutting met its chairman Adel Aujan in Dubai (published in The Canmaker, August 2011)

Sheikh Adel Aujan, chairman of Aujan Industries, is unequivocal about the value of the metal can to his company, the biggest independent drinks manufacturer in the Middle East.

“Cans are the biggest reason for our success,” he says, speaking exclusively to The Canmaker magazine at the company’s Dubai operational base in the United Arab Emirates.

The brand behind that success is Rani, a juice drink containing real fruit bits and called a ‘float’. The Rani brand is marketed by Aujan Industries in other types of packaging, such as cartons and bottles, but it is the can in which only the premium version with the particulates of real fruit is sold.

Hugely popular throughout the Middle East countries and increasingly in North Africa and South Asia, Rani will next year be celebrating its 25th anniversary. It also uses highly sophisticated production technology as one of the most widely-sold soft drinks using aluminium cans with nitrogen injection, a process that was pioneered by Aujan.

“Cans are the best way to deliver the float,” adds Sheikh Adel, who will be the keynote speaker on the opening day of The Canmaker Summit next month (29-30 September)and will talk about the background to the company’s remarkable growth.

In 2005 Aujan set a target of doubling sales to US$500 million which was reached early in 2009 and is expected to double again to $1 billion by 2012. With continuing expansion in the Middle East markets and elsewhere, it is more than likely to soar past the target. Growth has exceeded 20 percent a year over the past decade as young consumers increasingly drink the healthy juice. Aujan now has 14 regional locations and sells its products in 70 countries.

The booming sales of Rani haven’t gone unnoticed by competitors, who wanted to grab a piece of the action both by wooing Aujan into partnerships or launching look-alike competitors.

He’s been approached by the giant international brands, he says, but he values the family-owned company’s independence more than anything, and wants to keep it that way. “Copies – we have 20 in the market at any one time,” says Sheikh Adel, who adds that the company has a team of in-house lawyers working on keeping the upstarts at bay.

His son Abdullah, 30, is working his way through the operations. But Sheikh Adel, 65, doesn’t want to hand over too soon, expecting to “slow down” so that he can devote more time to conservation projects in Africa, where Aujan’s holding company runs tourism businesses. He’s pleased that two baby rhinos have recently been born at one of his wildlife conservation projects.