Beirut International Franchise Forum and Exhibition – "BIFEX" activities launched today, with the participation of more than 400 participants from 13 countries
H.E. Marwan Kheireddine, Minister of State in Lebanon, representing H.E. Najib Mikati, President of the Council of Ministers in Lebanon, inaugurated this morning the "Beirut International Franchise Forum and Exhibition - BIFEX" at the Phoenicia Hotel - Beirut, organized by the Lebanese Franchise Association and Al-Iktissad Wal-Aamal Group.
Minister Kheireddine said the government has taken reassuring measures in regard to the four gulf countries that have issued a travel warnings towards Lebanon mainly with the Lebanese Prime Minister sending a delegation of ministers for this purpose, and the personal visit of H.E. to the U.A.E which had a positive outcome, and thus we hope that Lebanon will enjoy a large tourism activity this summer.
Kheireddine’s address was given during the opening ceremony, representing H.E. the Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati at Beirut International Franchise Forum and Exhibition – BIFEX 2012, organized by the Lebanese Franchise Association and Al-Iktissad Wal-Aamal Group, the event launched its activities on Wednesday morning at the Phoenicia Hotel-Beirut, Lebanon.
BIFEX joined together more than 400 participants of businessmen, investors and franchising experts from 13 different countries from the region and abroad including H.E. Minister of Industry Mr. Freig Saboundgian, Minister of Information Mr. Walid Al Daouk, in addition to former and current ministers, members of parliament, and heads of economic chambers in the country.
The opening session featured addresses of Al-Iktissad Wal-Aamal Chief Executive Officer Mr. Raouf Abou Zaki, the President of the Lebanese Franchising Association Mr. Charles Arbid, the President of the Lebanese Chamber of Commerce Mr. Adnan Al Kassar and Minister Marwan Kheireddine.
“Our meeting here today amidst the current surrounding conditions is a success in itself, reflecting the Lebanese Franchise Association’s and its President, Mr. Charles Arbid’s determination towards achieving their desired goals that include organizing franchising activities under a set of correct and appropriate rules and regulations, in order to encourage Lebanese companies to adopt franchising as means to expand their field of activities and eventually gain presence in new markets.
BIFEX is an introductory event to a bigger and a wider franchise conference; the General Assembly of the International Union of Franchisers is to take place in Beirut next year and will attract a huge international participation to Lebanon. This event will reflect a positive image of the Lebanese private sector and its resilience and will highlight the spirit of determination and initiation that characterize it.
Franchising, which started in its contemporary form in the United States of America, represents now an essential branch of the economy in industrial countries and is rapidly expanding all over the world. The importance of this activity stems from the fact that it allows companies that have built a successful brand of their own to build on it via expanding their activities in new markets, providing investors with the possibility of making the products and services available in their markets with a minimal cost, without the burden and the expenses that arise when starting and establishing an entire new product or service. Thousands of franchising opportunities are available today from industrial countries in particular, that include wide sectors and industries. A set of laws governs the franchise activities in these countries, including China, while these same laws are being developed and enhanced in developing and under-developed countries that have come to realize the importance of this economic activity and its role in expanding investments in the private sector.
As for the Arab world, franchising activities have been witnessing steady development through the introduction of American and European franchises by local investors and companies to the region. The success of these initiatives have encouraged the presence of international companies in the region through franchises, and which have in turn encouraged local and especially Lebanese businesses to adopt their success and seek expansion in new markets. Although still in the initial phase and with limited presence, this franchising activity in Lebanon and the Arab world is continually evolving. Regulating the franchising activities in the region and providing necessary guidelines are a must for the success of regional companies seizing the existing opportunities and making their products and services available in new markets.
Abou Zaki concluded by saying that the necessary environment for investments and businesses in Lebanon and neighboring countries is still not encouraging enough for innovation, initiatives and spending. Moreover, there is not enough awareness in the region on the significance of developing a commercial brand in Arab companies, as family businesses still play the most important role in the Lebanese and regional private sectors.
Thus, we need to organize all aspects of the franchising activity in the region, taking into consideration all policies and motivations that encourage and develop private activities, leadership and initiatives that correspond to international developments in this field. We should also make sure to preserve and protect consumers’ rights by applying international standards.
"The Lebanese Franchise Association is proud to work on promoting Lebanon, land of creativity and beauty, through developing Lebanese franchises which have spread across the world thanks to their uniqueness and competitive qualities. This year BIFEX has a significant importance; holding this event amidst difficult and critical local conditions, in addition to the rich agenda and expert speakers on franchise and related topics is of marked success by itself.
I am pleased to announce that the World Franchise Council Meeting, which includes 47 countries including Lebanon, is to take place between 15 and 19 of May 2013 in Beirut. This event is happening due to the great effort the LFA has exerted to obtain the Council’s acceptance for hosting the event in this country, especially since Lebanon has only but recently joined this international community.
I would also like to shed light on another initiative that we are in the process of launching entitled “Branding Lebanon”, a step that we critically need in this country to eliminate all misconceptions built over the last few years. “Branding Lebanon” aims at reflecting the true Lebanese image to the rest of the world; a country of creativities, initiatives, and greatness… a country of productive and competitive capabilities, beauty and a unique way of life, a country of continuous innovation. Thus, it is now the time to join efforts, private and public sectors, to convey the true image of our country.
Just a few days ago We presented H.E. Mr. Najib Mikati with a proposal to launch a rapid and urgent plan to form a delegation of ministers, politicians and economists that visits neighboring countries to express the unity of the Lebanese people, and portray the positive aspects of the Lebanese economy and the willpower of the people in unison, to confront and overcome the good and the bad. Lebanon, deserves such effort and the Lebanese people must work together to restore a hopeful, dynamic and active economy. Whatever happens in this country, the Lebanese will never lose their hard-working nature, productivity and continuous efforts towards the development off their country.
That’s why we are here today, in BIFEX, in the midst of the occurring conditions, because franchisers and franchisees will never give up hope. This sector has an added value and will resist difficulties and survive by adapting to all kinds of problems.
We need to develop a new social contract that provides the necessary conditions to make room for productivity and competitiveness, to assure growth and social justice.
We must all recognize our responsibilities in building a new economy capable of adjusting to all occurring conditions and this can only happen after we join efforts together and make use of our potentials and capabilities to adapt to international changes and developments.
Isn’t it this Lebanon and the message it transmits? This is the country we want for us and for our children. So let’s start a constructive dialogue between all members of the Lebanese society to build the country we want; a country that uses the potentials of its citizens to benefit the entire community and restore our productive role”.
“We welcome you all to this event that represents a promising and successful economic sector, with diverse economic and financial activities covering many regional and international markets.
I am personally proud to be among the first who supported and financed the franchising activity in Lebanon through backing up the LFA since its establishment a few years ago, and through the organizing of one of the most important conferences held at the headquarters of the Arab Union for Commerce, Industry and Agriculture in 2010.
The franchising industry in the Arab world has been witnessing steady and significant development, despite regional turmoil and transformations, and the recent international economic crisis. On an international level, franchising activity is now growing at a rate of 27%, and constitutes around 50% of the consumption activity in the private sector, mounting to $30billion.
This sector constitutes a very promising opportunity for small and medium enterprises and provides ample job opportunities. Commercial brands attract investments as many see in them a way to further expand their own local businesses in the region and internationally, or to profit from an already existing franchise in new markets.
This sector is of special attributes as it facilitates the sharing of technologies, marketing and administrative strategic expertise, minimizes risk taking that usually occurs in the marketing, administrative and productive operations, and offers credit facilities.
The importance of this sector requires providing an inviting and encouraging environment as well as laws of investment, including facilitating the establishment of companies and making sure we have rules and laws that protect competition, intellectual property. We should also coordinate with Arab countries to promote development of investment and business opportunities, and make way for future expansions and success.
I am confident BIFEX will succeed in shedding light on various key issues relating to the franchise sector and will encourage future cooperation prospects, especially since it hosts highly influential and important regional and international figures in the world of franchise.
“first of all, I want to assure you in view of the current situation in the country, that the Lebanese government will continue to seek stability and to eradicate all feuds and avoid risks and dangers, to consequently preserve an appropriate and inviting environment for economic activity, and ensure the private sector continues to achieve its goals and carry on with its planned projects.
In the past few days, many have expressed their fears about the effects of the existing tension on tourism this season, and I want to tell you the government has been actively working on erasing all the concerns of the Arab countries about the security status in the country, and it will take a firm stand against any attempt that shakes its stability, and will work with all leaders and concerned parties to avoid any possible danger that threatens economic activity.
The franchise activity, which began with the American company “Singer” in the mid 19th century, is a very important process used in the economies of industrial countries, and is rapidly expanding in developing countries. And as always, the Lebanese private sector has been a leader in the region in this field, as it made possible the success of some national companies in neighboring countries.
Franchise in Lebanon has a great opportunity for growth and expansion, taking into account the variety of products and services presented by national companies and that to date have not been the target of investors in local, regional and international markets. This sector with all the significance it carries deserves the care and support of the private sector and governmental policies through the elimination of bureaucratic obstacles and hindering legislations, etc.
The success of the franchise sector is the success of the private sector; this sector reflects the long standing openness of the Lebanese economy that ultimately constitutes a strong incentive for starting initiatives and perusing success, adding a dynamic spirit to production and service activities that otherwise would have been absent.