Capital of colours: GLC Paint’s CEO on why Egypt is the land of opportunity

12 June 2023

Ahead of the Middle East Coatings Show in Cairo (June 19-21), PPCJ spoke to Anwar Abdelfattah Al-Hout, CEO of GLC Paints, one of the country’s leading coatings manufacturers, to discuss the Egyptian coatings market and why the North African country is so well positioned for success

Q. Please can you give me an overview of GLC’s history?

A. Our journey started in 1979 when our founder Abdel Fattah Ibrahim Al-Hout started his first successful step inside the Paints and Coating industry in the Arabian Gulf area, specifically in Saudi Arabia, and from that point it was one success after another.

In 1991, the decision was to expand in Lebanon – it was a more powerful and stable expansion, driving to a better focus on our main targets. By 1994, we started to achieve the first big milestone which was to enter the African market through Egypt. Our target is to provide trustful paints solutions and GLC Paints is one of the pioneers in high-quality paint manufacturing in the region.

In Egypt, we were awarded several times for obtaining the biggest market share and for being the most preferred paint solutions provider in the architectural paints market, as well as for innovational colour design that fulfils the consumers’ passion and we continuously support the Architectural & Design innovation scene.

Q. Which paint sectors do you cater to in Egypt?

A. All types of architectural paints (Interior, Exterior & Decorative) and Wood Coatings.

Q. How many plants/factories do you have in Egypt, and what is your average annual output?

A. We have four paints factories and two factories for the complementary industries. This structure enabled us to obtain the biggest market share in Egypt and to expand abroad. Currently, we are exporting our products to 12 countries.

We have more than 400 showrooms distributed around the different regions and governorates of Egypt and we are proud that we export to Europe, the Middle East and Africa under the label “Made in Egypt”.

When the government adopted an initiative for investing in Upper Egypt, we responded immediately by establishing a new factory in Qena. Our plan is to invest more and more in the market to increase our export shares and to create more job opportunities.

Q. Is it fair to say that Egypt is now the largest market for the company? How much do you produce and what percentage is exported and how much is for the domestic market?

A. Yes of course, all of GLC’s operations are located in Egypt. We produce over 150 million litres annually and most of our production is directed to the local market. We export 10-15% of that volume.

"My father had a futuristic vision about Egypt; he saw Egypt as a gateway for expansion and growth. The number of advantages that Egypt has, such as - but not limited to - its geographical location makes it a trading hub, especially to the African market."

Q. GLC started life in Saudi Arabia, expanding into Lebanon before adding Egypt to its list of manufacturing locations. What made the company choose to expand into the Egyptian market? Why was it appealing?

A. GLC expanded in Egypt in two phases: the first was in 1994, when we were exporting our goods from Lebanon to Egypt. Three years later we established our first factory in Cairo and this was the second phase.

My father had a futuristic vision about Egypt; he saw Egypt as a gateway for expansion and growth. The number of advantages that Egypt has, such as – but not limited to – its geographical location makes it a trading hub, especially to the African market.

Q. What has made the Egyptian market remain appealing, for all these years? Why is it a successful country to do business in?

A. Egypt is a big and diverse market. The number of national projects that were executed during the last decade, such as The New Administrative Capital, The Suez Canal Region, The Golden Triangle, The National Roads Development Project, The 1.5 million acres reclamation project etc., all these projects will lead to unprecedented increase in investments and operation rates.

Q. What are the main challenges and advantages of running a paint manufacturing company in Egypt?

A. Egypt is working to expand its population patch from 7% to 12% within 15 years. This strategy creates a big opportunity in the construction and real-estate fields and all the related markets and industries as well. This is additional to the fact that Egypt, through the years, is one of the main commercial hubs that serves the Middle East & Africa regions.

As for the challenges, they were more on the global scale the past few years – and what challenged all types of businesses around the world is what we face in Egypt as well, but the unique access and characteristics of the Egyptian market overcome most of these challenges.


One week to go until the Middle East Coatings Show – Cairo edition

Q. What are the main trends that you are seeing in terms of what your customers want from their paint in Egypt? Did COVID impact this? 

A. Awarding GLC as the best company in the architectural paints markets gave us a bigger responsibility to maintain the success we achieved in the Egyptian market during the last 25 years and drove us to commit the highest operational and quality standards and to the international health & safety standards as well.

Even before the pandemic, the market had an increasing demand for the anti-bacterial and anti-fungal products, yet after the COVID pandemic our R&D labs worked on developing an antimicrobial technology to match the Egyptian conditions and environment.

At GLC, we follow all the safety precautions and implement the highest occupational safety and health standards. Our responsibility towards the Egyptian society is a definitive factor in our commitment to make use of structured methodologies to achieve growth & sustainability.

Q. Egypt has faced political turbulence in recent history. How did this affect GLC and do you feel the market has recovered today?

A. I remember that during the time of fears and doubts, we opened the biggest Paints factory in Egypt and this was the third expansion for us. During the past 25 years, we have survived through many challenges and crises but we always trusted in the Egyptian economy’s ability to grow, whatever the challenges. Egypt is the land of opportunity and we at GLC took the path of growth and development, which is – still – our quest at this moment.

During these times we have witnessed bold economical reforms being implemented, along with the initiation of a number of huge projects in Egypt, which have had a major impact on the economical growth as we all have seen during the past few years.

And we also need to point to the positive changes in the governmental performance – even if it’s not yet at its optimum state from a manufacturing point of view, yet it has helped to accelerate positive results in different sectors and is a strategic driver to higher improvement rates on both economical and social scales.

For the future, we trust that – In Shaa’ Allah – the government will support private sector’s vision in developing new dynamic ideas and solutions that can overcome the current challenges and ensure the continuous growth for the company and the labour market.

Q. How have the global challenges of the last few years impacted business in Egypt, and do you feel you have recovered now? (E.g. COVID; shipping & logistics issues; wars)

A. Starting from the pandemic and ending with the Russian-Ukrainian war, the negative impacts were global and not limited to a certain market or region. From inflation to logistics difficulties, the challenges had its negative impact on the supply process to us and to the countries where we export as well.

So, going through these challenges maximises the government’s role to stand by the private sector and support them in finding unconventional solutions for the unconventional conditions around the world.

Q. What sets GLC apart from other paint manufacturers in Egypt?

A. We are in a continuous search for new trends and technologies in colours and we continuously empower the trust we have with our customers; this trust is the foundation we build to drive a quantum leap in the paints market.


North Africa: Egypt and Tunisia hold long-term promise for paint and coatings sector

Q. GLC also has its own packaging plants for the paint it produces – can you tell us a bit about why that was implemented and what benefits it brings to the company and its customers?

A. The packaging plants add another competitive advantage to GLC’s mix. We established these plants to empower our position and we utilised this advantage for the customers’ benefit on both quality and price.

Packaging is one of the main quality milestones in the industry and developing our packaging helped us to exceed the market’s benchmark in that matter, which led us to penetrate into a separate market and find new clients who are seeking high quality packaging solution.

Q. Do you have any plans for expansion in the near future?

A. We are planning to invest in new expansion in the 10th of Ramadan city and to double the productivity of our plant in Qena to be 100% compared with 50% last year. We are planning to increase our selling points in Egypt by 15% as well.

Q. And finally, what trends or technologies do you think will become most relevant in the next 5-10 years, with regards to paint and coatings in the MEA region? What technologies or philosophies will you be investing in?

GLC paints started the first alliance of its kind that groups together architects and interior designers to launch and spread the awareness of new colour trends. That was one of the company’s efforts that was recognised by the BT100 committee and one of the reasons they awarded GLC Paints as the “Best architectural paints company,” beside a number of other awards for innovations in colours and annual trends.

We will always invest in the colours technologies and trends as part of our plan to make Cairo the capital of colours in MENA region.

Information about the Middle East Coatings Show 2023 can be found here:


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