French materials firm opens Nairobi office, eyes factory
French construction products maker Saint Gobain has opened its first showroom in Nairobi with plans to set up a manufacturing plant within the next two years.
East Africa business development director Sachin Ramkasoon said the Sh15 million showroom-cum-main office will enable customers have a firsthand experience of the products. “We used acoustic wall panels and ceiling boards that help absorb external noise while helping to regulate a room’s temperature. Our strategy is to help Kenyans using our products to save on energy costs,” he said.
Mr Ramkasoon said talks are ongoing with several housing steel structure makers with a view to coming up with low-cost housing units that could be sold as a package.
“A steel-support house structure that incorporates our EPS Acoustic panel products takes a month to complete instead of the four months it would take to build using stone walls. A house owner will enjoy huge savings since our house keeps warmth during the cold season and naturally ventilates during the hot season,” he said.
Saint Gobain said it initially moved to Kenya via a partnership with a local distributor who was selling the products and in 2014 opened a representative office within the distributor’s premises.
“This new office and its showroom will enable us step up our commercial presence in East Africa as we shall actively engage our clients to educate them about our products,” he said. The firm, he said, had introduced smart windows (Saint Gobain Glass) that becomes translucent or transparent at the touch of a switch.
Mr Ramkasoon called for review of building policies to emphasise use of eco-friendly materials saying it would help improve health of buildings’ occupants.