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EBM: Nourishing lives

Filed on March 23, 2020
Dr Zeelaf Munir, CEO of English Biscuits Manufacturers (Pvt) Ltd (EBM)

Khaleej Times recently interviewed the articulate and dynamic, Dr Zeelaf Munir, CEO of English Biscuits Manufacturers (Pvt) Ltd (EBM), asking her about the exponential growth of EBM since its inception in 1966 as well as its plans for the future. Excerpts from an interview:

What is your vision for EBM?
My vision for EBM is to create a higher purpose that enriches the lives of our people, and our nation. The transformation of EBM into an industry leader entails a continuation of our 3P philosophy -people, planet and profit - for sustainable long-term growth. At EBM, we have translated that vision into reality by showing a continuous commitment to excellence as well as a passion for growth. Our values as a company are very dear to us. Nourishing lives, hearts and communities is something we work towards on a daily basis. This is steered by our core value of humanity. As a 'living company', we aim to nourish lives with our nutritious products and our community engagement projects. These values enable industry leadership, pioneer change and inspire innovation at all fronts.

Please tell us about your new product lines.
We have always believed in the expansion and growth of EBM. As of now, we have successfully launched 17 brands along with several variants in each. Sooper, the largest biscuit of Pakistan in terms of share and size, is a testament of our leadership in every category. We have recently introduced a chocolate variant in Sooper that is now available to the masses. Two of our largest segments are plain and cream. In the cream category, we have Rio, in which we have been introducing a range of variants. In Jam Delight, we have introduced two new flavours - orange and blueberry. In our chocolate chip range, we have introduced Choco-bites. We have also launched Choco lava, a luscious, chocolate filled, chocolate chip cookie. That's how we are operating during these challenging times. This is validated by the fact that EBM has a share of more than 55% of the entire biscuit market segment in Pakistan.

What causes does EBM support as a corporate citizen?
EBM has prioritised 'giving' since its inception. It is part of our DNA. Our focus has always been the development of youth through education, health and sports. We have been supporting the School of Leadership's signature Youth Leadership Conference for the past 18 years and it has now become a significant platform for leadership and development. Through TCS and Green Crescent, SOS Villages, tens of thousands of students are being supported on primary levels. We have even contributed funds towards the endowment of higher education levels at IBA and LUMS. Through Aga Khan University, we support mother-and-child initiatives which in turn are supporting research, training and development. We are also lending our support to the agricultural and food sector in collaboration with institutions like Faisalabad and Karachi University. We also have a Center of Excellence that helps to promote and bolster our academic industry.

Do you have any plans to expand your production internationally? Please tell us about your international markets.
Our focus has always been on our local industry, specifically our domestic consumption. However, over the past three to four years, we have recognised the international market as a major growth driver. Though it's a small percentage of our overall business, we believe it is significant for the value it adds. The Middle East is an extremely important market for us, mainly because of its heterogeneity. The buying power of the Middle Eastern market is substantially greater than larger markets simply because of its demographics. Plus, the region is closer to us which gives us greater logistical opportunities. As a matter of fact, our nation's biscuit 'Sooper' is very well liked and has been made available through reliable distribution channels.

What is your view on the quality of human capital in Pakistan?
EBM's success is tied to the quality of its human capital. As an industry leader, our responsibility is to grow our human capital because we are not just a company - we're an institution. The entire food industry welcomes our people to be a part of their organisations simply because they have worked at EBM. That's the quality of our people. There is a lot of training and development that takes place. We have been rated as the best place to work thrice by the Pakistan Society of Human Resource Management (PSHRM) and Engage Consulting for attracting and retaining top talent from the country. This is primarily because of the best practices that we adopt when it comes to human development as a whole. Our people as individuals and as teams believe in our core values and work with the 3P philosophy that has become the very ethos of EBM.


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