Sabir Argaw, University of Life, Ethiopie

The AL-SAM Group – How a Small Retail Shop Became a Leading FMCG Company in Ethiopia

Mr Sabir Argaw is a name easily recognizable in Ethiopia’s business community because it is impossible to discuss AL-SAM Group without looking at the man who built this large conglomerate that is involved in the import and export of fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) and has investments in Ethiopia’s real estate sector. 

The fast-moving consumer goods that AL-SAM Group distributes are for different sectors, including health, education, agriculture, manufacturing, and trade.

History of AL-SAM GROUP

In 1982, with a capital of 17,000 birrs ($460), Mr Sabir Argaw opened a small retail shop at Merkato, the largest market in Ethiopia.  He operated this retail store for 12 years before establishing SAM International plc in 1994. This new company, engaged in the import and export business, later underwent organization structural changes which paved the way to its current name, AL-SAM. 

AL-SAM was registered as a private limited company in 1999, and it had three main areas it was to be involved in; manufacturing, trading, and distribution of products locally and internationally. 

During the first few years of its inception, AL-SAM’s primary business was the importation of well-known brands from the international market to Ethiopia, as well as agricultural export products.

Ethiopia’s arabica coffee is one of the best in the world and is one of the largest export earners for the country. Other export products include hides and skin, oilseeds, qat, and gold. At the moment, AL-SAM’s is primarily exporting coffee and sesame

AL-SAM did not just meet the consumer demand for products but also supplied retailer with products at affordable rates. Almost three decades later, AL-SAM has more than ten distribution centres in various locations in Ethiopia. 

AL-SAM Group attributes its growth as a distributor of FCMG to its diversified portfolio, affordable rates, and business acumen. It certainly didn’t hurt that Ethiopia’s population, currently at more than 115million, has been a great market base for the goods imported and distributed by AL-SAM. 

Over time, AL-SAM diversified its portfolio to include assembling of home electronics appliances and real estate. Its objectives, which are the guiding principles of any company, show how far AL-SAM is willing to go to provide services to Ethiopians in various sectors of the economy.

The AL-SAM Group Business Structure

As a distribution company, AL-SAM is the sole distributor of the following products in Ethiopia;

  • Tiger Brands
  • Colgate Palmolive
  • Kiwi Shoe Care Products
  • Baygon, Mr. Muscle, Pledge, Glade
  • Care Products
  • Energizer Battery and Shick Shaver
  • Sinar Line Exercise Books, Printing Papers, and Photocopy Papers

The AS-LAM Group gets most of these products from its trading partners, who include;

  • HAYAT Egypt – 
  • Tjiwi Kimia Paper Products
  • SC Johnson
  • Ngo Chew Hong Edible Oil
  • Sime Darby
  • Felda Iffco
  • P.T Sinar Antjol
  • Colgate Palmoline
  • HACO Tiger Brands
  • ARCELIK International

AL-SAM Group Real Estate Investments

AL-SAM Group has invested in various properties, both commercial and residential, in prime locations. Chelek AL-SAM Tower Buildings in Mexico Square, Addis Ababa. The two buildings are currently housing government facilities and various business entities. AL-SAM has plans to expand the back of the Towers and build a five-star hotel. 

Other investments in AL-SAM’s real estate portfolio are the Lina Apartments, AL-SAM Apartments, and SACCUR Apartment. 

AL-SAM Group Sister Company – LINA plc

To better manage its expanding portfolio, AL-SAM Group registered another company, LINA plc. This company is involved in;

  • Real estate development
  • Provision of transit services
  • Setting up manufacturing plants
  • Domestic and foreign trade

Lina plc is the subsidiary company of AL-SAM Group charged with the responsibility of importing plastic raw materials, Kiwi shoe polish, and stationery. The company also owns apartments. 

Given its vast investment in Ethiopia’s economy, AL-SAM Group employs hundreds of people. It has also been instrumental in the business environment by providing office space in ideal locations and easy access to affordable goods and services. Its contribution to society cannot be overlooked, not its benefit to Ethiopia’s economy challenged

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