Market Wise

Merkavim Metalworks has produced 400 state-of-the-art Apollo buses, 50 of them for export.

bus 88 224 (photo credit: Courtesy)
bus 88 224
(photo credit: Courtesy)
NOW THAT her father is located in London - albeit not permanently, despite the huge fortune that he spent on his house - Zvia Leviev Alazarov is assuming a higher business profile. Alazarov, who is deputy marketing manager of the Africa Israel Group and who chairs Africa Israel Residences, this week unveiled plans for a new neighborhood in the majestic grandeur of Savyon. The project consists of five houses in two relatively small streets. If that sounds preposterous to anyone not familiar with Savyon, the town is noted for the large, fenced-in open spaces surrounding luxury homes. On hand to verify the future splendor were the leading architects to whom the design of the project has been entrusted - Ilan Pivko, Oded Halaf, Oded Lavi and Orly Shrem. Some of the people living in Savyon have not been entirely happy with Africa Israel's development plans in the past. But they may find the current project easier to accept, because it will better reflect Savyon's image of quiet affluence. The proof of the pudding is, of course, in the eating, and the very fact Leviev is building a home for himself in Savyon, and that most of his children are either already living in Savyon or plan to build homes there, is an important selling point. But architecture and location aside, Alazarov is simultaneously, though not necessarily consciously, marketing another concept - that of the modern, successful haredi businesswoman, who, while fulfilling the roles of wife and mother, can conduct multimillion-dollar business negotiations and can fit comfortably into the secular world without compromising her religious values. Alazarov, though completely up-to-date with the latest fashions, never wears clothes that are immodest by religious standards; her wig is a true work of art; her children attend religious schools; her business acumen is admirable; she can reel off Africa Israel statistics off the top of her head; she has no trouble holding her own in secular society, and is an example for other haredi women whose business potential has not yet been tapped. MERKAVIM METALWORKS was founded in 1946 and employs the latest state-of-the-art technologies in the development, design and manufacture of buses and coaches, which it sells in Israel and abroad. It has supplied United Tours, which is owned by the Dan Bus Company, with 20 Apollo model coaches valued at NIS 23 million. According to Merkavim CEO Micha Micksner, the company has produced 400 Apollo buses, 50 of them for export. Merkavim last year contracted to supply Serbia with 10 Apollo buses. Given that 2008 is Israel's 60th anniversary year in which tourism is expected to reach an all-time high, Micksner anticipates that Merkavim will have to supply an additional 20-30 buses to United Tours throughout the year. The buses are equipped with monitors, CD and DVD players, toilettes and kitchenettes. SNOW AND rainstorms notwithstanding, according to the calendar, spring is on the horizon. From the point of view of Strauss Ice Cream, that means it is time to create interest in the new season's flavors. Strauss Group chairwoman Ofra Strauss recently hosted an ice-cream tasting event at the sumptuous Avenue reception halls in Airport City - even though ice cream, generally speaking, is considered a poor man's luxury because it is still affordable to those on a tight budget. Having a full-range tasting, even at the risk of people being gluttons and making themselves sick, is a good marketing ploy because it makes temptation almost irresistible. The event included an awards ceremony for outstanding employees. Strauss who has several times been ranked by Fortune magazine among the world's 50 most powerful women, said she wasn't the least bit surprised that the majority of outstanding employees were women. THE NEW Hamashbir has acquired the exclusive franchise to market Nine and Company Shoes, a subsidiary of Nine West, one of the more popular American brands of footwear. New Hamashbir, in cooperation with Brill shoes, will open a 24-branch chain of Nine and Company stores at an investment of NIS 10m. New Hamashbir CEO Assaf Ben-Dov says the Nine and Company chain has the potential to become the best footwear outlet in Israel. THOSE WHO miss some of the caustic comments of Betty Rockaway, who caused more than a few upsets when she was an adjudicator in the television show The Models, can still have a chance to watch and hear her passing judgment in a campaign for Proportzia in which she advises passers-by to fix their noses, have tummy-tucks or other necessary measures to put their features more in proportion. Rockaway played her part with finesse and humor. CITY OF the Kings Eilat CEO Uri Prigal, has announced that the theme park is transferring its advertising account to G. Kidd and Young. The annual advertising budget is NIS 4m. Most of the advertising is targeted at young people and families.