Monday, November 21, 2011

detailed exotica


Exotica CEO Etienne Debbane built his business in the middle of the civil war

Exotica Lebanon started its operation in 1982 with a small flower shop in Jal el dib.  With an anterperuniel vision under Mr. Etienne Debbane the operation grew to about 4 sales branches in Lebanon (Jal el dib - Verdun, Kaslik and Achrafieh), one whole sale point in Louizeh with plant and flower production facility and nursery in Louizeh.  The expansion further continued to open two sales branches and nursery in UAE (Dubai and Abu Dhabi). 
The services of Exotica included Flower arrangements, seasonal flowering plants, accessories and hardwares for major occasions such as Christmas, mother’s day, valentine and Ramadan, plant maintenance services, plantation, design and plantation of landscaping projects, Design and installation of irrigation projects, weddings, service providers for hotels and businesses among other related activities.
Exotica take pride in its product as they import the highest quality of flowers and plants.  The nursery makes sure that each plant is treated as if it is the only one.  Each plant undertakes the nursery treatment including state of the art automated fertilizer and vitamins injection and automated irrigation.
In addition to the sales branches Exotica created a state of the art Web Site – - which has been on service for over 10 years now.  The web site is a convenient tool for our beloved immigrants and regional professionals to satisfy their needs through online ordering associated with our same day delivery system.  The web site is dynamic as it is updated daily for products and monthly for themes.

 To date, Exotica has over 500 employees spread across the impressive showrooms, flower and plant production Nurseries, and Landscape Contracting divisions. This team of innovative and professional staff is spread between Lebanon and the UAE, contributing to Exotica’s vast experience and growth.
Exotica's flourists receive training for the dutch and French teachers to keep up with the high standard expected of exotica. With our florist in our various sales points keeping track of the latest trends in floral design, we are never at a lack of creative ideas
Creativity and Professionalism are the words that guide our team of florists and decorators. Hundreds of weddings decorated in the past twenty years have made Exotica a reference in Lebanon and a name synonymous with creativity. From the smallest wedding gathering at home, to the most opulent reception, our team makes sure it will be the wedding of your dreams.
Exotica Emirates was established in 2005 with Landscape Contracting and Retail Divisions in Abu Dhabi. An astounding showroom was opened in the heart of Abu Dhabi, followed by a Nursery in Al Rahba.
. Countries exotica is active in include the UAE, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Kuwait.
Exotica offers a wide range of services including weekly floral contracts, plant supply and maintenance, events, seasonal decorations, and online flower deliveries.
Numerous businesses and high end hotels have showcased our designs, as our ability to transform spaces has been mastered through many years of experience.
With an extensive array of services and high end products, Exotica has established itself as one of the region’s leading green brands.
About Landscaping services

With years of experience and fully equipped Nurseries in both Lebanon and the UAE, Exotica is able to offer landscape services from design to development and maintenance anywhere in the region including Jordan, Syria, KSA and Qatar.
Our expertise in both softscape and hardscape elements
of landscaping have allowed us to take on many successful projects ranging from residential to commercial including hotels, airports and many other businesses.
It is our team of qualified engineers, architects, draftsmen, and skilled workers along with our history in the landscaping sector that has given Exotica a highly acclaimed reputation in the industry.

Our advertising agency is H&C Leo Burnett –
They present yearly strategy that includes all our events; like, Christmas, Valentine, Mother’s Day, Easter, Father’s Day
And seasonal important occasions: like, balconies, weddings, and many others.

Today, Exotica is a household name with annual revenues in the range of $10 million. With five points of sale and the mammoth Zouk nursery, it can sell you a dozen home grown roses, a 2,000 year old olive tree or ranks of fast- growing, Exotica produces 2 million plants a year and imports those it can’t grow locally or which are too expensive to grow locally. Today, the retail side accounts for 50% of business, landscaping 30% and plant production 20%.
Regional projects
Exotica has been a regional player from almost the very beginning. In 1981 it established one of the largest companies for landscaping in Saudi Arabia and for 22 years worked on palaces, universities, golf courses and sports pitches.

In 2004, the company embarked upon its second regional project and now divides its Middle East activities between two corporate entities. Exotica SAL today serves the Levant – Jordan, Syria and Iraq – and North Africa – Egypt and Algeria, while Exotica LLC, an Emirati company with local partners, conducts business in the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait. Both companies are looking to target regional markets with renewed vigor. “We have just built a 50,000m2 nursery in al-Rahba area of Abu Dhabi. It will be fully operational by September 2006 and is geared to outdoor plants,” explains Debbane.

In the last three years, Exotica has been more active in the region, a strategy born out of a gradual contraction in the Lebanese market. “We need to focus on countries where there is wealth and demand. Lebanon is getting poorer. You need a consumer to sell and today there is less money to spend. Big jobs have been delayed or even stopped.”

Still, the infrastructure was in place to serve regional demands, while the know-how built up over a quarter of a century of working in the region has, claims Debbane, given Exotica a genuine edge. “We are executing gardens by shipping straight from the source or Lebanese nursery,” he explains. “If you want to be a big player you have to be there as a legal entity and to have a nursery producing plants that others don’t have and to be price competitive with other local producers. And this is what we have done. Today 20% of our business is outside Lebanon but within five years, we expect this to climb to 50% with overall revenues hitting $30 million.” According to Debbane there are no plans to undertake an IPO. “There is no need. We have a very powerful partner in the Emirates and in Lebanon we are doing well.”

Despite the regional push, Exotica’s main hub is still in Lebanon. The Zouk nursery is a source of immense pride for Debbane. “It is probably the largest in Lebanon with the widest selection of plants, around 3,000 items.” Debbane points out that due to Lebanon’s unique range of microclimates – tropical, sub-tropical, desert and alpine – the company finds itself in the unique position of being able to cater to all zones, including the Gulf countries. “We are probably the only company in the world that caters to all these climates.”

Self-production and slavish attention to the bottom line has also sharpened Exotica’s competitive edge. It is an area of the business of which Debbane is particularly proud. “When it comes to quality and price on the plants we produce, we are unbeatable. We are highly mechanized and professional. For instance here in Zouk we produce 1 million rose stems, using hydroponics, a soilless culture in an ultra-sophisticated computer- controlled greenhouse system. The investment has been extremely expensive but we sell what we produce and we make the best roses in the country. Whether it’s annuals, perennials, small plants, or shrubs, we are also unbeatable because we use mass, mechanized production. We handle the plant once, put it in its pot and when it is ready for sale, we unplug and sell it.”

Debbane is also keen to stress that while Exotica is a successful family business, it is run as a corporation. “We have rules. We are clearly regulated, well- organized and financially transparent. There are two ways of running a family business. There is the family way: low cost, no investment and where everyone in the family works haphazardly and then sells without calculation. We do it in reverse. We look at it as an industry. We say the end product is this. What should we do to get it at price of not more than this? How many should we produce and what are the means of producing?”

The result is a competitive pricing policy that is often at odds with the company’s glamorous image. “People are normally shocked by our the prices. They think we charge for our name. This is not true,” claims Debbane. “The name is the gravy. All our plants have prices and are fixed. This is security to the consumer. Customers can come here and book a tree and come back for it in two months.

Exotica grows 1.5 to 2 million plants each year. “Everything that we can grow that is cheaper than importing we grow and in the same vein everything that we can’t grow here or is cheaper to import we will. For example, we used to get Palm trees from the North but now it is cheaper to ship them in from Egypt. They may not be as good as ours and a few may be diseased but it is still worth it. The plants we grow here are plants that reach maturity in 1-4 years and which we can sell easily. There is no point in investing in long-term trees when the market is so uncertain and in the contracting game you have to keep overheads low all the time as a precaution against the lean periods.”

The debanne Group

Precaution or not, Exotica’s fortunes have been firmly rooted in the solidity of the Debbane Group, without which Debbane says Exotica would probably not be around today. “We owe our success to the support of the Debbane group. We have had highs and lows.” The lows were…well, pretty low, especially a particularly lean spell at the end of the civil war. “When things went bad, no one would have come in. Who was going to pay $500,000 for 90% of Exotica when they see you are bankrupt, even though 50% of the company should be worth $4-5 million? The Debbane Group, with income from other sectors in other countries, has been the key to our success.”

Debbane is one of six family owners in the group which established Exotica and which has revenues of around $100 million. The core activities are spread over seven other companies: Societe Debbane Freres, importers and distributers of agricultural material; Sodap, Insulco and BCL, which make construction material, insulation and cement respectively, Pesco Telecom and Evert M which provide telecom and data transmission services, and Enoteca, the upmarket wine importers and retailers, a business that grew out of a hobby and which now serves both the on and off-trade. It is another area in which Debbane feels the group has contributed to new trends in modern Lebanese living. “People used to serve whisky and arak with a meal. Now it has to be wine.”
Exoticas Advertising

Exotica devotes 5% of its revenues to advertising, “the norm by western standards.” Given the company’s green – metaphorical and literal – profile, surely it must be heavily involved in corporate social responsibility, working among the community and leading the way to a greener Lebanon? Debbane sighs. “To be honest, most of our efforts to help the public sector have failed. We have planted roundabouts, medians and trees on pavements mostly without success because the day we hand them over to the municipality, they are not well looked-after. We have planted some areas as much as six times. If we had been allowed to do it properly they would be fantastic places by now. It kills you. I was involved in a roundabout project with Pikasso [billboards]. When we maintained it, it was fine but when we left it, it died and had to be replanted within two years, probably at a higher cost. So you can see there is little incentive for us when we are let down all the time.”

Yet Debbane has sympathy for the Ministries, who he says are underfunded. “Look at the ministry of agriculture. It has 0.04% of the national budget for a sector that employs 25% of the workforce. In 1974, we were pioneers. Today, Lebanon has fallen behind its neighbors in this field, while other have learned new methods or brought in know-how.”

Value-added service and know-how

Know-how is a key strut in the Exotica corporate structure. “You have to get the best people. Without people there is no business. The key is that we have always invested in people. We have found the best and brought in the best and trained our staff abroad on the latest techniques, buying know-how when we have to.”
As a result, Exotica has 15 technical teams supervised by engineers that are on call to visit the nation’s gardens, assessing, planting and maintaining. It is, claims Debbane, all part of the total care package. “We guarantee everything. You can call us and say, ‘I have a garden in Tyre. Can I plant lavender?
’ We will ask if you have checked your water. Is it too salty? We will check the water and the conditions and if you can’t plant lavender we will tell you why. Others retailers will just say, ‘You want lavender? Take three plants, what’s the problem? If they die, come and take three more.’ We are still maintaining gardens that we planted years ago.”
Exoticas Branches in Lebanon and UAE.

Exotica Achrafieh
Independence street
Exotica Zalka
Zalka, Amaret Chalhoub
Exotica Verdun
Verdun St
Exotica Kaslik
Near Kaslik Roundabout
Exotica Louaizeh
Zouk Mosbeh Farraya Road

United Arab Emirates - Exotica Emirates LLC

Abu Dhabi – Tourist Club Area near Abu Dhabi Mall

United Arab Emirates - Exotica Emirates LLC

Dubai Workshop - Al Quoz 4


Marketing Mix

4 P's

·       Product: Exotica offer a wide range of services including weekly floral contracts, plant supply and maintenance, events, seasonal decorations, and online flower deliveries.

·       Price: Exotica targets middle to high class. Their prices differ depending on the client's desired product. Price ranges from 20$ -1000 $ or more, this depending on what you want to purchase. Exotica also deal with corporate sales and events.

·       Place: Exotica' Geographic presence in Lebanon – Exotica Acharfieh, Exotica Zalka, Exotica Verdun, Exotica Kaslik and Exotica Louaizeh.
Exotica' Geographic presence in United Arab Emirates is located in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Exotica flower shops are located in densely populated areas and places that are easy to reach. So it can be convenient for people living north, south, east or west.  Exotica can also be found on the web ( ) where one can place their orders online. The fact that exotica is convenient where ever you go makes it a plus in generating sales.

·       Promotion: Exotica rely mostly on billboard advertising and magazine advertising. Exotica have done two TV advertisements. Their constant advertising medium has been the billboard advertising. Its billboards are always positioned in the most convenient places so as to reach its desired audience. Exotica Advertises a month or two before an special holiday or celebration since exotica sells flowers , it advertises earlier so as to prepare the gift giver that they should give exotica flowers. Exotica not only advertise about holidays such as Christmas, new years, or valentines. Exotica also advertise about exotica corporate services, and exotica balcony designs. Exotica tries to reach all ages and sexes that why it concentrates on below the line online advertising. Exotica make blogs and also communicate with its clients through face book. Exoticas Audience ranges from teenagers to adults up to their 50's. Teenagers who want to impress their young love, adults who want to impress their executive clients or just simply design their homes.

SWOT analysis


  • Exotica strengths include the wide range of flowers available. A client can always find what he needs in exotica because exotica has a huge variety selected carefully in order to fit any occasion or season. Exotica has a bouquet for every occasion, its variety differentiates it from any other flower shop.
  • Recognized in all MENA regions
  • Distribution of shops around Lebanon and location of billboards and use of advertising
  • Powerful brand positioning
  • Supports different charities
  • Market Leadership for its uniques
  • Online growth
  • Loyal customers
  • Strong brand equity
  • One of the major strengths exotica possess is its name. Its name alone attracts the client since its means artistic and unique.
  • Innovative, unique and simplicity in its advertising.
  • Exotica depend a lot on its e-commerce. Also making websites and blogs , having a personal interaction with its market.
  • Targeting the first class, Exotica also works with executives on a corporate level , which includes organizing events and landscaping.
  • It's online and phone delivery makes it easy for clients.
  • Exotica offer free shipping on all of its orders. These are positive attributes that differentiate the company from its competitors.


  • Some Weakness of Exotica may include higher prices than the competition. Because the company has a higher price point for its products, it may lead customers to look elsewhere for a better deal which would negatively impact sales.
  • Low number of TV advertisements
  • Price is expensive compared to other flower shops
  • Other Competition


  • Low priced competition – Offer an attractive product at an even more attractive price.
  • Weather changes
  • Times when there would be no occasion so sales would be lower
  • external changes ( economic : inflation , social : income distribution, politics etc )
  • unstable political and economic situation in lebanon


  • Product and service expansion
  • Targets both genders
  • Offers customers large selection
  • Emerging market and expansion abroad
  • Different seasons and occasions- always something new.
  • Will always needed
  • The customers are able to customize products and design flowers that they want like bouquets, vases, Baskets & hampers, and Delights; it makes exotica have more opportunity to sell products.
  • Exotica creativity and the simplicity in their advertisements catch the audience's attention this making it an opportunity.
  • The use of e-commerce and internet blogging is a more personal approach to catch an audience attention.
  • The distribution of exotica flower shops in the country. All in areas which are beneficial for its target market.
  • Having a huge variety for every occasion , season and mood gives exotica an advantage over its competitors.


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