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Emerald Emerging Markets Case Studies

Going international through successful partnerships: the case of GIAS


Yamen Koubaa Rym Srarfi Tabbane Manel Hamouda
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Yamen Koubaa Rym Srarfi Tabbane Manel Hamouda, (2013),"Going international through successful partnerships: the case
of GIAS", Emerald Emerging Markets Case Studies, Vol. 3 Iss 1 pp. 1 - 12
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Going international through successful
partnerships: the case of GIAS
Yamen Koubaa, Rym Srarfi Tabbane and Manel Hamouda

Yamen Koubaa is based at Overview


the Brest Bretagne
Campus, France Business GIAS is a Tunisian SME established in 1983. The firm operates in the food industry sector
School, Brest, France. and employs 350 employees. It produces and sells butter, baking powder, sugar, flour
powder, and several other pastry ingredients. In total the firm commercializes more than 800
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Rym Srarfi Tabbane is


based at the Higher School products. GIAS handles B2B and a B2C operations. The firms success is built around
of Digital Economy, customer-oriented innovation. It emphasizes research and development via partnerships
Mannouba, Tunisia. with local and international food research centers and universities labs. It is the first brand to
Manel Hamouda is based at bring to the Tunisian market margarine without Trans fatty acids. To achieve its goal of
the Faculty of Economic innovation, more than a 100 tests are performed daily by laboratory technicians to provide
Sciences and satisfaction and ensure food security. Indeed, grace to a high and detailed standardized
Management, Tunis, quality policy, GIAS could obtain many certifications including OHSAS 18001 certificate
Tunisia. version 2007. More recently the company migrated from the ISO 9001 version 2000 to
version 2007, and successfully renewed its ISO 22000 certificate and ISO 14001. Becoming
a leader in the domestic market, GIAS inaugurated its international adventure in 1996. In less
than ten years, its products could reach several foreign markets in three different continents.
Today, GIAS products are available in about 20 countries mainly in Africa, the Maghreb and
the Middle East. The firm adopts an international expansion strategy based on win-win
partnerships with foreign actors, mostly retailers.

Paving the way to internationalization


An arrow of factors contributed to local and international development of GIAS. Few years
after its creation, GIAS concluded contracts with European pastry makers. These contracts
were for outsourcing activities in the beginning. Then they evolved to joint-venture and
licensing. This experience brought valuable know-how to GIAS and enabled it to develop
new products and to create new local brands with attractive price-quality ratio. The firm
could get more local market shares and hence end up with an excess of cash which invested
in establishing a strong distribution channel and in enhancing production facilities. Coupled
with the strong willingness of its founder and management team, these factors have paved
The authors thank the GIAS
team for the comprehensive the international way for GIAS.
and valuable data they
provided and for the unlimited
cooperation in the preparation Go international to escape the local market saturation
of this case.
Several reasons drive SMEs internationalization. Among which figures the local market
Disclaimer. This case is written
solely for educational purposes saturation. Fortunately, products and services have different life cycles across markets. Tunisia
and is not intended to represent is a pioneer market in Africa. Many products are launched in Tunisia and then transferred to
successful or unsuccessful
managerial decision making. other African markets. In the food industry in particular, Tunisia is seen as an innovative country.
The author/s may have The product is made and tested in Tunisia and then exported to Maghreb and Sub-Saharan
disguised names; financial and
other recognizable information markets. Consequently, in Africa, the food products have different life cycles with the cycle
to protect confidentiality. being usually in advance in Tunisia compared to other African markets. The expansion to

DOI 10.1108/EEMCS-11-2012-0193 VOL. 3 NO. 1 2013, pp. 1-10, Q Emerald Group Publishing Limited, ISSN 2045-0621 j EMERALD EMERGING MARKETS CASE STUDIES j PAGE 1
foreign markets is appropriate to lengthen the life expectancy of the product. GIASs move to
international markets was first a response to an unexpected excess of production. In the year
1990s the Tunisian government enacted a law to develop food industry, considered at the time
as a strategic sector for the Tunisian economy. The law contributed to the proliferation of
food-investment which led to an excess of offer in front of a quasi-stable demand. There was an
imminent saturation of the Tunisian market. GIAS has already large production capacities and
the need to find alternative markets to liquidate the excess of production was urgent. Libya was
the closest and the easiest alternative market. Libya is a neighboring country to Tunisia. The
Libyan border is 600 km from the Capital Tunis where GIAS has most of its production facilities.
Both countries have stable and strong political and economic relationships; and, in terms of
business, there are almost no cultural or business differences. The two countries share the
Muslim-Arab-Berber roots and the North African geography. All the conditions have been met
to quickly conquer the Libyan market. Using its external network, GIAS could quickly find a
Libyan partner who agreed to be in charge of transporting the products from GIAS production
facilities in Tunis to Libya and retailing them on his own. We were pretty lucky to find this
partner, says the current export manager. In fact, the demand for pastry ingredients in Libya
especially for margarine the main product sold at the time by GIAS was very high with
almost no offer on the market. GIAS margarine was like water for the thirsty people. The Libyan
partner was strongly motivated to retail GIAS products and was ready to support all the risks
associated. The experience was fantastic and has had several positive returns on GIAS
financial performance. First, the excess of production could be liquidated and the overall
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production capacity even boosted to respond to the high demand from Libya. Second, the
management recognized and tasted the great added-value of export. GIAS management
comes to the conclusion that the firm can do much better internationally and that a special care
has to be given to the development of the firms international performance. The last conviction
was reinforced after the participation in food trade fairs and export improvement sessions
organized by the Tunisian agency of export development, a public agency. The international
market, often, offers greatest opportunities than the Tunisian one which remains a small market
with limited rooms for growth. The management decided to be more internationally engaged
and going international passes from a simple need to a deliberate strategic choice.

Going international: a strategic choice


In 1995 there was one person, an export assistant, in charge of handling the export
operations. She was affiliated to the sales department (Figure 1). All the export related

Figure 1 GIAS organizational architecture in 1996

Note: This figure is developed by the author based on the description of GIAS BRASLAM manager

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PAGE 2 EMERALD EMERGING MARKETS CASE STUDIES VOL. 3 NO. 1 2013
decisions have to be validated by the sales manager. Exports opportunities were limited and
the role of the export technician was to take care of the contract and the payment. There was
no need for product adaptation or for foreign market analysis. The Libyan market was open
enough to absorb all the production without any adaptation or market prospect.
After coming to the conclusion that GIAS export performance can be remarkably enhanced,
an organizational shift has been made and the export function has been accorded a true
value. A new export department called BRASLAM has been created in 1998 (Figure 2). Two
managers and an assistant form the team, finance and sales managers, assisted by logistics
and operations maintenance assistant. In the beginning there was no logistics manager. It
was perceived too costly to add a third manager to the department. However, through time,
BRASLAM evolved to meet the requirements of the growing export operations. In 2002, there
were three units in the department with one manager on the top of each unit namely finance,
sales and logistics. In mid-2005, BRASLAM becomes an independent entity with
independent management. It has the ultimate mission to maintain and develop current
and future exports of GIAS.

GIAS foreign operations


Selecting foreign markets
GIAS assigns importance to the selection of foreign markets. It implemented a screening
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process with multiple steps. The selection of the most appropriate foreign market is made
through a selection of the geographic areas that GIAS wants to prospect. To this end, GIAS
turns naturally toward some areas that the company describes as development zone
which are essentially composed of three areas: the Maghreb, the Central and East Africa
and the Middle East (Figure 3). Neither the USA, Europe nor Asia are considered as
development zones. These markets are well saturated, in cut-throat competition stage, and

Figure 2 BRASLAM

Since 1998 Since 2000 Since 2006

Since 2002 Since 2008

Note: This figure is developed by the authors based on the description of


GIAS BRASLAM manager

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VOL. 3 NO. 1 2013 EMERALD EMERGING MARKETS CASE STUDIES PAGE 3
Figure 3 Partners by region

MIDDLE EAST & ARAB COUNTRIES AREA


Population : 145,962 million
ALGERIA & MOROCCO AREA GNI percapita : 14,497,143 $
Population : 68,25 million Number of partners : 7
GNI per capita : 3,720 $
Number of partners : 2

Tunisia Syria

Libanon
Morocco Jordan
Kuwait
Algeria Libya
Egypt Bahrain
Saudi
Arabia

Mauritania
Mali Niger

Gambia
Burkina LIBYA AREA
Guinea-Conakry Faso
Population : 6,423 million
Benin
Ivory Cameroon GNI per capita : 12,320 $
Coast
Number of partners : 1
Congo
Equatorial Guinea
Gabon
Madagascar

WEST SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA AREA 1


Population : 93,668 million WEST SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA AREA 2
GNI per capita : 683.75 $ Population : 111,346 million
Number of partners : 10 GNI percapita : 4,870 $
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Number of partners : 7

Note: This figure is conceived by the author based on GIAS foreign sales archive

full of legislative barriers that require enormous paper work which complicate the export
procedure and extend the risk. explains BRASLAM manager.
The selection of the countries usually occurs during international trade fairs. Managers work
to establish contacts with and collect information about various partners. About 60 percent
of GIAS contacts are established via international trade fairs. A screening of all the partners
contacted is done later on by BRASLAM team.
The outbreak of the prospection process can occur also by the choice of GIAS when the
management thinks that there is untapped potential with some countries or some
geographic areas.
Once, the geographic area (the country or several countries) is picked out, GIAS goes over
the screening system. The selection procedure of the foreign market to retain starts first by a
data collection. This requires the travel of a GIASs team (the team primarily comprises sales
representatives and marketers) to the selected country for gathering the maximum of
information. The information needed is usually about the competition, the products
commercialized by the rivals, the prices, the quality, the distribution channels used (the type
of distribution channel, the different sales tactics, etc.), and the market (the market size, its
characteristics, its possible evolution, the buying power of the target customers, etc.). The
team prepares a pictorial market overview that gives a global idea about the market and its
evolution. Then, the team estimates in terms of revenues and sales the market share of the
product(s) that GIAS wishes to offer to the consumers in that specific market; and to
determine the size, number, and strategies of the national and foreign competitors. These
estimations help GIAS analyzes the market attractiveness and the sector competitiveness of
the target area, and then make decisions about whether or not to expand to that market.

The export scenario


Once all the information is gathered, an export scenario is performed. The export scenario is
a simulation of a real export operation. The team in charge of export will select a product and
simulate its export to the selected market. This simulation allows for the identification of

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PAGE 4 EMERALD EMERGING MARKETS CASE STUDIES VOL. 3 NO. 1 2013
potential risks associated to regulations, tariffs, payment, transport, buying styles, etc. After
the simulation, the final offering is fixed and the implementation of the export process begins.

Foreign partners: the win-win partnerships


By default, GIAS enters new foreign markets via export. The firm can then retires, expands
more via export or via other business modalities, or maintains pure export operations. GIAS
could recently strengthen its international presence with two foreign direct investment
operations in Algeria and Morocco.
GIAS assigns a great importance to the selection and the relationship management of the
foreign partners. The export manager estimates that 80 percent of the success in the
international market is caused by the foreign partners reliability. The selected partners
generally have an operating retail platform, accept to work exclusively with GIAS, and ready
to adhere to the paid on commission principle. For international markets entry strategies,
we opted for export partners who work exclusively with GIAS products, says the export
manager. He adds GIAS chooses those who want to share work and profit.
GIAS defines the win-win partnership as a chain of give and take. GIAS offers technical and
financial assistance to the foreign partners. It provides communication assistance, extends
small credits, and trains the personnel of foreign partners. In exchange, GIAS expects to get
a strong devotion to develop the product, an acceptable return on investment (generally in
one year), and a lot of transparency and mutual trust. It is about building the nest together,
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remarks the founding manager.

Prefer small over big partners


GIAS favors the small over the big partners. When asked about the reasons to prefer small
foreign partners over big ones, the BRASLAM manager explains that the small retailer has
usually weaker negotiation power; He has also a higher predisposition to stick to GIAS
guidelines; besides, big retailers, unlike the small ones, ask for high commissions because
they have high charges; and tend to impose their rules on GIAS. GIAS management believes
that the price-quality ratio of their products is competitive enough to conquer the offers of
small and big retailers. Hence, the management avoids unneeded concessions to big
partners. The offering doesnt need extended support to be attractive. It needs just to be
appropriately marketed and small retailers can do this job with the support of GIAS. remarks
BRASLAM manager. Furthermore, big retailers are known by their commercial greed and it is
unlikely that a win-win relationship can be established with them. We represent a small
company from a small country. We find it easier and more profitable to work with those who
resemble to us: small retailers, remarks the BRASLAM director.
Another important reason for preferring small partners is the propensity of market
development and sustainable relationships. GIAS management believes that the firms
international activities are better handled and can steadily grow with small retailers. The firm
prefers the middle to long-term return over the immediate return. We would like to grow up
together and to sustain our relationship, says the BRASLAM manager. Given the attractive
price-quality ratio of GIAS products, the management anticipates an important growth of the
firm sales in the foreign market after a period of one to two years, the period necessary for the
product to be known by consumers. Once the product is known, the demand will increase
and the small partner is likely to grow. GIAS will then propose new products (generally the
BtoB range). Subsequently the foreign partner expands its business and grows to become
among the Bigs. GIAS capitalizes more on the cooperation and the sustainability of the
relationship. When we grow together, we continue working together. Long term sustainable
return is our objective, says the founding manager.
Note that GIAS preference for small retailers is not a prerequisite. The selected partner can
be a giant in its respective market if there is no appropriate small partner. In addition, the
selected small partner should have the necessary infrastructure and expertise to retail GIAS
products. GIAS assistance to foreign partners is to support its business operations and not
to equip it with the basics of doing business.

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VOL. 3 NO. 1 2013 EMERALD EMERGING MARKETS CASE STUDIES PAGE 5
The B2B and the B2C
GIAS has products intended for the professional segment (the B2B range) and other
intended to households (the B2C range).
These two product ranges are not commercialized in an equal manner internationally. The
choice of the product range to develop depends on the foreign markets characteristics and
on the partners profile. In the Middle East for example, GIAS distributes at the same time
B2C and B2B product ranges. The same is true in Libya. As regards the Sub-Saharan and
central African area, it is mostly the B2C range which is commercialized.
If the target market allows the commercialization of both B2B and B2C ranges, the choice of
the product range to offer first will depend largely on the GIASs foreign partner. If the partner
has the financial and technical capacities (well developed distribution channel; a diversified
customer portfolios; a reliable logistics base), it will be trusted to commercialize the two
product ranges. If not, GIAS opts for the export of one range or negotiate agreements with
two different partners in the same market; one for B2B and one for B2C. Table I illustrates
GIAS operations in international markets.

Mutual trust to advance foreign business


Another pillar of the win-win partnership is the mutual trust between GIAS and the foreign
partner. GIAS foreign markets are concentrated in the North and Sub-Saharan Africa. There
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is an acceptable level of law enforcement and transparency in the North African markets.
Besides, GIAS can easily control its North African partners grace to the cultural, political and
geographic proximities. At contrast, law enforcement and business transparency are quite
low in Sub-Saharan markets. It costs a lot to permanently check partners from that region. As
remedy, GIAS management opts for the win-win partnerships based on mutual trust. The firm

Table I GIAS international operations


Number of Product ranges Population GNI per capita
partners per commercialized (2011) (current US$)
Area Countries per area country per country (million) (2010)

Algeria and Morocco Algeria 1 B2B/B2C 35.98 4,470


area Morocco 1 B2B/B2C 32.27 2,970
Libya area Libya 1 B2B/B2C 6.423 12,320 (2009)
Middle East and Egypt 1 B2B/B2C 82.54 2,600
Arab countries area Lebanon 1 B2B/B2C 4,259 9,110
Jordan 1 B2B/B2C 6,181 2,750
Syria 1 B2B 20.82 4,380
Bahrain 1 B2B 1.324 15,920
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia 1 B2C 28.08 17,820
Kuwait 1 B2C 2.818 48,900
West Sub-Saharan Gambia 2 B2C 1.776 610
Africa area 1 Mauritania 1 B2B/B2C 3.542 1,000
Burkina Faso 1 B2B/B2C 16.97 570
Ivory Coast 1 B2B/B2C 20.15 1,100
Niger 2 B2B 16.07 360
Guinea-Conakry 1 B2C 10.22 440
Mali 1 B2C 15.84 610
Benin 1 B2B/B2C 9.100 780
West Sub-Saharan Gabon 2 B2C 1.534 7,980
Africa area 2 Cameroon 2 B2C 20.03 1,210
Congo 1 B2B/B2C 67.76 190
Madagascar 1 B2B/B2C 21.32 430
Equatorial Guinea 1 B2C 720,200 14,540

Note: This table is conceived by the author based on GIAS foreign sales archive

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PAGE 6 EMERALD EMERGING MARKETS CASE STUDIES VOL. 3 NO. 1 2013
usually accords a one-year trial period for each new partner. The one-year trial period is
governed by an oral agreement. This kind of arrangement is made mostly with African
markets where the informal agreements are privileged. African investors prefer avoiding
formal contracts in the early stage of the deal. Although it is its wish, GIAS fears losing the
partner and hence the opportunity if it insists on signing a formal contract from the beginning.
The one-year trial period is to build trust necessary to enter the market and then to conquer it.
During the one-year trial period, there is no official contract between GIAS and its partner.
The good will of both parts to establish a win-win exchange after the one-year trial period is
the only warrant. Nonetheless, GIAS fixes several sales objectives to attend within the trial
period; if not met, the relationship can be canceled. We want to deliver an assuring
message to our new partners and let them be convinced that we are serious in doing
business with them. You know, it is not always easy to trust an SME from an emerging market
even though it is quite serious in its business operations; hence we begin by sending a
message of trust remarks the founding manager. BRASLAM monitors the new partner
during the trial period and reports to the top management. Sometimes, evidences that the
new partner is not serious enough arise from the first three months but GIAS maintains in all
cases its engagement during the whole one-year trial period. After the trial ends, BRASLAM
assesses the partner performance and if the outcomes are good, the relationship becomes
official and more advantages are given to incite the partner performs better. Moreover, GIAS
accords the exclusive right to retail its products to protect the local interests of the partner
and to anchor mutual trust. The last measure is sometimes broken. Particularly in central and
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East African markets, GIAS has difficulties to get accurate and timely feedback and often
does mistakes in selecting the appropriate partner. The issue is that the partner usually did
well during the trial period and once it is granted the right to officially retail GIAS products,
the performance goes down. To dilute the risk of information fuzziness, GIAS usually
establishes links with more than one partner (two in most times). In this case, GIAS adapts its
marketing-mix to protect the interests of both partners. In Congo for instance, GIAS
commercializes the same product (margarine) under two brand names GOLDINA and
LAZIZA, with different packaging, and via two retail partners. In Central and East Africa, you
learn as you do business. You should be always ready to cope with sudden changes. The
lack of transparency and information access force GIAS to diversify its partners (not more
than 2 partners). But in all cases we finish by maintaining one of them. The diversification
serves mostly to assess the trustworthiness and the reliability explains BRASLAM manager.

Partners rewarded by commissions


GIAS promises a commission to each foreign partner. It rewards them according to their
performances. Partners receive commissions according to their turnovers with the firm and
their relative market shares. The commission scale follows a positive linear curve. That is to
say more the partner retails, more it receives higher commissions. The turnover scheme is
specific to each partner. It is decided based on the partner profile and the market
characteristics. The formulas for commissions are not the same across all the foreign
markets. GIAS fixes the key variables that determine the commission.

Customized permanent assistance to foreign partners


Foreign partners are local actors in their respective markets. Their main effectiveness is the
good knowledge of the market and the proximity to final customers. We apply the
head-hunting philosophy. We look for those small actors having the necessary infrastructure
to retail our products. Generally these are ready to accept our conditions of exclusive retailing
(i.e., GIAS requires that the partner do not retail rivals products) and commission-based
remuneration. In exchange we offer them a customized and continuous assistance. It is a
win-win exchange, says the BRASLASM manager. GIAS conducts promotional campaigns
and merchandizing activities in foreign markets in perfect cooperation with the partner. It
contributes to market analysis and help partners (financially and technically) develop new
retailing facilities and techniques. In more than one market such as Libya where GIAS experts
spend a pretty part of the year in the stores of the Libyan partners to train local staff and gather

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VOL. 3 NO. 1 2013 EMERALD EMERGING MARKETS CASE STUDIES PAGE 7
field data; and Congo where GIAS heavily undertakes promotional campaign and market
research activities, GIAS supports partners and help them grow.

Meeting the distribution spirit of the foreign market


The place is where the customer finds the product, looks at it, touches it, perhaps admires it;
and then probably chooses it. The place for distribution is a pillar of the company offering.
GIAS accords a particular attention to the choice of the distribution channel. Indeed,
knowing that the competition is very tough, the slightest error in selecting the distribution
channel can have an impact on the brand image of and generate significant losses for the
company. The profitability achieved and the expenses supported at the level of each
distribution channel could in their turn, interfere with decisions to stay on the market or quit.
The start-point of a foreign distribution channel selection is founded on the successful
choice of GIAS in the Tunisian market. The distribution channel in Tunisia has evolved and
GIAS has adjusted to these changes. Today GIAS operates three distribution channels: the
traditional sale through the local shops (traditional grocers, local supermarkets, etc.), the
wholesalers, and the hyper and supermarkets. To all these distribution channels, GIAS has
added another one: the B2B distribution channel (for hotels and restaurants) that consists of
direct selling to professionals.
GIAS tries always to impose its choice of distribution channel on the foreign partner. However,
the company does not exclude possible adaptations to meet foreign markets specificities.
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These adaptations are made by taking into account the potential and the structure of the
target market, the opportunities offered by each channel, the market structure, and the
consumer buying habits. For instance, in Libya and some Sub-Saharan countries, the most
frequently used distribution channel is traditional grocers. The hypermarket and supermarket
channels are not well developed. On the contrary, in Morocco and Saudi Arabia, the hyper
and supermarket channels are the most attractive and therefore are privileged by GIAS.
GIAS can opt for many channels in the same country. As one market can include different
segments, GIAS adapts the offering across and along the same foreign market.
Some products are essentially reserved for being sold via traditional groceries. For example,
in Algeria, GIAS retails flour powder, yeast, baking powder, and vanilla sugar via traditional
groceries under the brand name VANOISE. In Algeria, unemployed moms have the custom
of preparing at-home cakes and are the ones who buy ingredients for at-home prepared
food. These women shop usually in nearby groceries. The other products of the brand are
sold exclusively in the hyper and supermarket channels.

Forecast system
GIAS applies a daily monitoring of the foreign orders through a forecast management system for
each partner. The forecast is based on a historical analysis of previous performances of each
partner while taking into account market vulnerabilities. The variables to be considered are the
annual number of placed orders, the ordered quantities, the frequencies of orders placing, the
average shipping period, etc. Thanks to the forecast system, GIAS has learned to plan a quantity
greater than ordered and the order is usually prepared before the deadline to face hazardous
effects such as strikes. As a consequence, all GIAS retail partners receive their orders in time
and in conformity to their requests. GIAS accords a great importance to its image and
reputation overseas, and there are strict and clear instructions from the top management to
avoid non-conform and delayed orders says the export manager. The cooperation in terms of
forecast management with the Egyptian partner went further. The Egyptian retailer uses an
information system that allows instant feedback to GIAS headquarters in Tunisia. This system
enables GIAS Tunisia to instantly monitor the retailing of its products on the Egyptian market.

Packaging
Packaging is made by GIAS. Partners receive packaged products. The packaging is
generally the same for all GIAS products on the various foreign markets. It is prepared by
GIAS Infographics service. The packaging is conceived based on the recommendations of

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PAGE 8 EMERALD EMERGING MARKETS CASE STUDIES VOL. 3 NO. 1 2013
the marketing communication service. GIAS applies different languages on all the packaging
to meet linguistic specificities of the foreign markets. However, despite the standardization
trend, minor adaptations of the packaging are sometimes needed in some markets. The need
to introduce adaptation is detected through the market overview and feedbacks from
partners. In this case it is GIAS and not its foreign partner that takes in charge the adaptation
before delivering the order. For instance, the colors of margarine packaging were changed
from the original light yellow and green to dark yellow and black in Congo to better respond to
colors preferences of Congolese.

Payment method
Due to the nature of international dealings including factors such as distance, differing laws,
and difficulty in knowing each party personally; the use of letters of credit is the most
frequent. There is a substantial risk of non-payment especially with the African partners. We
feel forced to use letter of credits despite their cost, remarks the finance manager.

Successful win-win stories


The 18 years of international experience are full of successful stories. Perhaps the most
admiring is the unexpected return on investment of the Libyan market in a relatively short
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period, in spite of its small size. The current Libyan partner was an ordinary vendor who
comes to Tunisia with his track, buys and pays cash, and return to sell in Libya. Now he is one
of the richest men in Libya. He produces milk, yogurt and Ice cream grace to the partnership
with GIAS. GIAS could become the leader in the Libyan market despite the strong
competition from Tunisian and international players.
Egypt was also a brilliant success. When GIAS entered the Egyptian market, another
Tunisian brand (JADIDA) was the leader on that market with 80 percent of market share. Now
GIAS has 60 percent of the market and JADIDA has 30 percent. Besides, GIAS offers B2C
and B2B ranges while JADIDA operates only in the B2C range.
The Jordanian partner was in 2003 a small dealer of pastry products. Today he is a food giant
in Jordan and his business is expanding beyond the home market. The turnover with GIAS
more than tripled in less than five years.
In Congo, GIAS products are a sweet discovery by the local consumers. Congolese were
accustomed to hard margarine that melts only at 408C and which is used for cooking
principally. GIAS offers them a soft margarine (tartine) so suitable for breakfast. GIAS was
the first to offer this type of margarine which resembles a lot to butter, a very liked but
expensive product in Congo. GIAS could hence enjoy two advantages. First it could
substitute butter with a cheaper product having the same nutritive provisions. Second it
enjoyed the first mover advantage and becomes the reference in the Congolese market.

What is next?
We look at developing our international expansion and exploring new markets remarks the
Keywords: founding manager. Specifically, GIAS is more interested in the Middle East area. The Middle
International marketing, East market is targeted by strong competitors (e.g. Betty Crooker American Group). GIAS
Small to medium-sized should be more innovative. We are working to develop a range of products more competitive
enterprises, [. . .] and to come up to the giants. adds the founding manager. GIAS is negotiating a future
Emerging markets, strategic partnership with a food industry leading European group. If concluded, this
Food industry, partnership will enable GIAS to have a wider and more complete product range of a better
International business, image which corresponds more to the expectations of the Middle East consumers. This
Internationalization strategy, partnership is intended particularly to conquer this market via the enhancement of the brand
Tunisia, image and the product range. It allows also a sharing of the international expansions initial
Globalization, and subsequent costs especially when knowing that these costs are enormous in the Middle
Win-win partnership East.

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Further reading
Chetty, S. and Campbell-Hunt, C. (2003), Paths to internationalisation among small- to medium-sized
firms. A global versus regional approach, European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 37 Nos 5/6, pp. 796-820.
Coviello, N.E. and McAuley, A. (1999), Internationalisation and the smaller firm: a review of
contemporary empirical research, Management International Review, Vol. 39 No. 3, pp. 223-256.

De Clerq, D., Sapienza, H.J. and Crijns, H. (2005), The internationalization of small and medium-sized
firms, Small Business Economics, Vol. 24 No. 4, pp. 409-419.
GIAS (2012), available at: www.gias-industries.com.tn/ (accessed 30 October 2012).
Laurin, F. and St-Pierre, J. (2011), The internationalisation of SMEs and the relationships between
imports and exports, paper presented at 2nd International iSME Conference, Bangalore, India.
Ruzzier, M., Hisrich, R.D. and Antoncic, B. (2006), SME internationalization research: past, present,
and future, Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, Vol. 13 No. 4, pp. 476-497.
Sen, A. and Haq, K. (2010), Internationalization of SMEs: opportunities and limitations in the age of
globalization, The International Business & Economics Research Journal, Vol. 9 No. 5, pp. 135-142.

Wright, M., Westhead, P. and Ucbasaran, D. (2007), Internationalization of small and medium-sized
enterprises (SMEs) and international entrepreneurship: a critique and policy implications, Regional
Studies, Vol. 41 No. 7, pp. 1013-1030.
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Corresponding author
Yamen Koubaa can be contacted at: Yamen.Koubaa@esc-bretagne-brest.com

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