Mezzan Group’s legacy began in the 1940s when the late Jassim Mohammad Ali Al Wazzan, a young eager Kuwaiti entrepreneur saw an opportunity and invested in his first small grocery business in Kuwait City. The store specialized in selling basic household necessities, as well as preserved and canned food products. Al Wazzan then began developing relationships through exclusive deals with foreign manufacturers including Claire Ghee, Pillsbury Flour, Baird’s Vinegar, Crystal Hot Sauces and other commodity items. To this day, these brands remain a staple among Middle East families and are closely aligned with Al Wazzan family.
Launching food manufacturing
Al Wazzan complimented his business and ventured into food manufacturing. In the 1960’s, he built the GCC’s first meat processor, a line of meat mincing, mixing and packaging machines producing halal meat to be later rebranded as Khazan. He also invested in one of the region’s first potato chip factories by launching KITCO which remains one of the most trusted suppliers of potato chips in the region. As part of a disciplined business strategy to expand business segments and product portfolio, Jassim Al Wazzan then looked into growing his operations as part of his sustainable business strategy, a strategy which has since been ingrained in the Group’s model. Renowned international suppliers became attracted to what had become a proven and successful business model, including, Johnson & Johnson, Kimberly Clark and Reckitt Benckiser, three of Mezzan Group’s largest and most internationally recognized partners to this day.
Expanding into a vertical model
Following their father’s legacy, the 1980’s witnessed the entry of the second generation of Al Wazzan family into the business. The new team adopted the same fundamentals their father valued: know the market, learn consumer behavior, provide quality products, continuously develop operations and maintain productive partnerships. The second generation of the Al Wazzan family expanded Mezzan Group’s operations and grew product offerings in a vertically integrated model of its various divisions across the consumer goods value chain which include food and beverage manufacturing and distribution, fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) distribution, catering and services. Mezzan Group also has an industrial services business division that is part of its vertically integrated model.
Continuing the legacy
In 2009, heirs of the Jassim Al Wazzan family, now in their third generation worked to ensure the legacy and continuity of the business by instilling industry-experienced management to evolve, grow and further institutionalize the organization for years to come. The new management’s mandate was to improve operating efficiencies in some of the company’s holdings, adopt effective corporate governance on the holding level and on the subsidiary level, increase profitability, and roll out an immediate growth strategy to cement Mezzan Group’s leading position in the regional consumer goods industry. Other initiatives included the upgrade and enhancement of the IT infrastructure, which included adopting a Systems Applications Product (SAP) in order to audit internal operations and ensure security and data integrity.
Today, the Mezzan Holding remains committed and focused to its core business of Food and Non-Food Business Lines. Maintaining a core business with effective vertical integration has enabled the Group to enhance margins, optimize efficiencies, and build scale to give the company an added edge over its competitors and peers.
In the last several years Mezzan Holding pursued a focused regional growth strategy by entering Food and FMCG sectors in countries neighboring Kuwait and pursuing other attractive and complementary sectors. The launch of a distribution platform in Saudi Arabia through the establishment of Mezzan Saudi Trading & Distribution, the building of manufacturing plants in Qatar and Jordan, and the acquisition of UAE’s leading distribution company Unitra Mets Group (UMG) in January of 2014 have enabled Mezzan to successfully grow out of its home base. In October of 2014, the company announced that it is has taken steps to make the company a public shareholding company through a listing on the Kuwait Stock Exchange in the third quarter of 2015.