Agthia Group signs deal to open water bottling plant in Kuwait

The Abu Dhabi food and beverage company Agthia Group has signed a deal to open a water bottling plant in Kuwait, taking advantage of its high per capita water consumption.

The equal partnership joint venture with Kuwait’s Al Wafir Marketing Services would allow Agthia to produce its Al Ain bottled water in Kuwait, the company said on Monday. The plant is expected to be ready by the second half of next year.

The production capacity of the new plant would be 30,000 bottles an hour.

Agthia declined to disclose the cost of the plant.

The Abu Dhabi-listed company is banking on Kuwait’s rise in water consumption to about 750 million litres by 2019 from about 600 million litres at present, according to Agthia. It aims to use Kuwait as a hub for export to neighbouring countries.

“Regional expansion in water is a critical part of our strategy,” said Iqbal Hamzah, the chief executive of Agthia Group.

The company has allotted Dh250 million for expenditures this year, an increase on Dh200m last year. The fund would help to launch new products, capacity increases and acquisitions, Mr Hamzah said in February. It also reported Dh500m in surplus cash last year.

In October, it bought Dubai-based Al Bayan Water for between Dh160m and Dh180m.

Al Wafir Marketing Services Company, which started in 1998, was developed to build Kuwait’s Alforda central fruits and vegetables market for wholesalers under a build-operate-transfer scheme from the Kuwaiti government. The market started in 2010 and will be operated by Al Wafir for 19 years, following which it is expected to go back to the government. In 2013, it closed a five-year loan facility for 14m Kuwaiti dinars (Dh170.9m).

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