The launch of the latest heavy-duty Quester, a ‘series of major fleet deals’ and the securing of a new retail partner in Saudi Arabia helped UD Trucks strengthen its foothold in the Middle East, East and North Africa (MEENA) region in 2019, the Japanese company has revealed.

Described as another positive year despite ‘extremely challenging economic conditions’, the Volvo Group-owned Japanese brand said in a statement that it recorded sales increases in a number of key markets, in particular the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Oman.

The company said that Saudi Arabia will be a major focus in 2020 after “was very much a year of transition for UD Trucks in Saudi Arabia”.

UD Trucks announced in December 2019 that it had appointed Volvo Trucks’ representative Zahid Tractor as its new exclusive importer and distributor in the county following a ‘mutual agreement’ to terminate its long-standing collaboration with Rolaco Group.

“With the start of this exciting collaboration between the two companies, and underpinned by the ambition and professionalism of Zahid Tractor, 2020 is set to be an excellent year for the brand as it seeks to continue its growth and take customer satisfaction to a higher level,” said the company in its latest update.

It added that in the UAE, sales were up almost 10 percent year-on-year, ‘despite the overall market shrinking’: “It was a similar story in Oman, with the market down but UD Trucks registering 10 percent growth. As a market, Kuwait bucked the regional trend with truck sales increasing, helping UD Trucks to an impressive doubling of sales. The company maintained its number one position in Bahrain, while reinforcing its position in Qatar as the number one brand in the Japanese truck segment and number three brand overall, including the European manufacturers.”

The company is continuing its investment into the East Africa region of recent years as it, “seeks to reactivate its presence there.”

The company said it has been rewarded for its reactivation of Ethiopia with a doubling of its market share, while the brand also helped to inaugurate a UN driver school in the country – under UD/Volvo Group’s sponsorship, UD Trucks supplied three Quester models and ran numerous driving school sessions. It also re-commenced activities in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania over the course of the year.

“2020 will see a continued focus on this region, and particularly in Kenya where a local assembly project will be launched,” said UD Trucks.

The company said the arrival of the New Quester in April had helped to boost its performance in the region: “The new Quester and medium-duty Croner, both of which are designed and engineered especially for the region, have been in high demand and were at the heart of the numerous major fleet deals that peppered the year.”

Deals completed in 2019, included Kuwait Municipality purchasing 106 Quester and Croner models for waste management in September. The company also signed its first ever deal for 20 Quester 8×4 Mixers with Oryxmix in Dubai in the same month. The company also revealed that 118 Questers and Croners were sold to waste management specialist Lavajet in the UAE and 25 to Oriental Trading Co, “with many other similar agreements signed across the GCC and East Africa.”

Mourad Hedna, pesident, UD Trucks MEENA, said the company will continue its strategy to grow by “reinforcing market share in countries where we are already present” and by entering a number of new markets.

“Our objective always has been, and always will be, to deliver the highest standards of customer service because this is the only way to guarantee sustainable growth in the long-term,” he added. “We will continue to do this by collaborating closely with our regional partners while simultaneously remaining focused on that most valuable human capital: our employees.

“Having strong partnerships in each market is critical to our success, so it was a positive reflection on how we are doing that so many of our partners reconfirmed UD Trucks as their brand of choice, over the course of the year, highlighting their pride in working with the company and the very special family spirit that exists among all parties.

“This essence of close and positive collaboration was strengthened by the bodybuilders conference that was held in August and the annual partners conference that took place in September.”