COVID-19 is not the first crisis Samih Sawiris has faced as president of Orascom development holding.
The Switzerland-based company has been developing hotels, homes and leisure facilities in Europe, the Middle East and Africa for over 30 years. Today it has 33 hotels with more than 7,000 rooms. In April, Orascom became the sole owner of FTI Group, the third largest tour operator in Europe.
Speaking to Phocuswright Europe 2020 in September, Sawiris said past challenges had taught him to always prepare for a downturn, which has served the company well during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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“The first time I got into a crisis, I practically lost the business, and that was a good lesson because I had to bail out the business,” he says.
“I swore I would never find myself in such a situation again. ”
Sawiris explains how her company now includes a projection for “a catastrophic year” in its business plan, then makes sure it has enough money to get through this downtime.
“We entered this crisis with 180 million Swiss francs of available liquidity to support operations,” he said.
“Today we still have that $ 180 million, so in a way I think preparing for a crisis is really something we’re good at.”
Learn more about Sawiris’ interview with Phocuswright research analyst and European content specialist Dirk Rogl.
Management interview: Orascom Development Holding – Samih Sawiris – Phocuswright Europe Online 2020