China's top selling consumer electronics brand Hisense expects a 25 per cent growth in revenues from the Middle East this year compared to $280 million last year.
Terry Wang, general manager of Hisense Dubai, said consumers have started to realise the value of Chinese brands.
"When we came to the market eight years ago, key retailers in the UAE were not interested for the Chinese brands. But now the conception has changed since technology is changing very fast. The Chinese firms are fast enough to come to the market with new technologies at an affordable price and quality. Now, consumers have realised the value of Chinese brands," he said.
China's brands, while still realitively unknown, are as competitive as brands from Japan and South Korea. Even though unbranded OEM (original equipment manufacture) products, which are often low quality and low price, are also sold in Deira and Dragon Mart, that does not mean all of China's branded products are below quality, he said.
"[China has] big brands like Huawei, ZTE, Lenovo, TCL, Haier, etc, which are well known across the globe. China has different layers of quality. Even Apple is made in China. Some Chinese companies survive only for three to four years and they vanish. But the branded companies are there in the industry for more than 30 years," Wang said.
Last year, Middle East and Africa contributed $480 million to group's overseas revenue of $1.88 billion. Out of this, $280 million came from the Middle East.
Wang said that TVs and white goods, which usually includes products such as home appliances, are expected to do better this year.
"Our strategy is to become the number one Chinese brand in the Middle East."
Globally, Hisense is ranked as the fifth largest global TV manufacturer in terms of volume. The company expects to sell 10 million TVs this year worldwide.
"We are shifting our focus from original equipment manufacturer [OEM] to brand business. We are in the Middle East for more than 10 years as an OEM but started as a brand business in 2011. Brand business contributes 40 per cent to our growth. We are also OEMs for HP and General Electric, and contribute 60 to our total turnover," he said.
Hisense has two factories in China for TVs and one in South Africa and Egypt. They also have a R&D centre in China, and two centres in North America and Europe.
Wang is not bothered about the effects of the turmoil in Egypt on the company.
"We have no intention of pulling out of Egypt and when once Egypt becomes stable we will start manufacturing for south of Europe. We may step up a factory in Iraq or Turkey in future depending on the situation."
China is the main market for Hisense, followed by US.
"We are the strategic consumer electronics partner for Walmart and strategic partner for Google TV. The volumes are high in the US but not the margins when compared to the Middle East and Africa, especially Africa, where the margins are high," he said.
The "smart concept" is gaining importance in consumer electronics whether it is TV or smartphone.
Only TV vendors with its own panel production facilities can "survive in the market as the margins are very low," Wang said.
According to statistics, more than 50 million Smart TVs were shipped last year globally and it is expected to cross 150 million by 2015.
With global content providers like Google and Facebook setting up bases in Dubai apart from local content providers, Wang said Smart TVs will gain traction in the region. Right now around 15 per cent of TVs sold are smart but that is expected to grow around 80 per cent in the next couple of years as the price gap between the technology narrows.