With a legacy that spans almost 100 years, the Gasan Group has become a household name thanks to a solid track record of hugely successful enterprises in diverse industries. Today, the company has grown to employ almost 700 people in Malta across its four core operational pillars, composed of automotive and marine, insurance, total building services, and real estate.

A corporation that’s as diversified as Gasan Group requires a CEO who can wear many hats. And since taking on the CEO role in 2014, Mark Gasan has proven he’s more than up to the task of juggling multiple projects, businesses and large-scale ventures at any given moment. However, when pressed on the secret to his success as a CEO, Mark is keener to shine the spotlight on the team around him.

“Rather than seeing myself as being alone in my leadership role, I take decisions jointly with my team, and the successes we enjoy are always a joint effort. The Group is nearly 100 years old and my role is to work as a team member and sustain what the Group has built and continue to grow it, so that it remains sustainable for future generations.”

In order to keep his focus on all aspects of the Group’s businesses, Mark likes to get to the office a good hour before everybody else. “I like to start early in the mornings, so that I can clear my emails and plan my day. I can then focus on both internal and external meetings. My favourite part of this early start is a casual morning catch-up with my colleagues,” he says.

This people-oriented approach is a key quality to Mark’s leadership style. It’s an attribute he feels keeps him rooted to his people and gives him a genuine first-hand sense of how operations are faring at each level.

“Meeting in person with the different teams is an important part of my day. In our automotive business, for example, I enjoy speaking to the salespeople in the morning, just seeing generally what cars they sold the day before or how the market is doing. I’ve always viewed the car market especially as a gauge of consumer trends.”

One such consumer trend that GasanZammit Motors has been quick to capitalise on is a growing demand for electric vehicles (EVs) and hybrids on the island.

“Our brands are very advanced – both the passenger and commercial vehicles – so we have a nice range of EV products on offer. As a result, electric car sales have increased substantially over the last two years.”

GasanZammit Motors’ success in the local EV space was further boosted recently thanks to the dealer’s appointment as representative of the Maxus brand for the Maltese territory. Falling under the Fortune Global 500 listed parent company Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC), Maxus has quickly developed into a global leader of electric commercial vehicles thanks to their outstanding performance and high efficiency. Their addition to GasanZammit Motors’ product line is significant.

“We create strategy by looking at what is changing in the industry and trying to understand future consumer trends in order to be a step ahead in our sectors. Maxus manufactures commercial vans and has focused and produced two electric variants, that have proved extremely popular. It goes to show a growing appreciation among local consumers surrounding sustainability in all aspects of our lives.”

The issue of sustainability is also something Gasan Group has been actively pursuing through other landmark projects they’ve developed and launched over the past year, including the Piazzetta Business Plaza in Sliema, which went on to win the Planning Authority ‘Award for Public Open Spaces’ in 2021.

“The rehabilitation, restoration, and re-development of the Piazzetta Business Plaza is a project close to my heart. We developed a sustainable building, whilst retaining key elements of this historical site including the original façade and pillars. We also created a landscaped piazza, which is being enjoyed by the public at large,” he says.

Another major milestone for the Group has been its re-entry into the hospitality sector in December 2020. Through an existing 50:50 joint venture, the Group redeveloped the old Embassy shopping complex into the Embassy Valletta Hotel, one of the largest hotels in the heart of the capital, boasting 81 beautifully designed rooms, whilst retaining six cinemas.

Launching a new hotel brand amid a pandemic that brought the entire hospitality sector to a drawn-out halt was not without its challenges. However, Mark and his team decided to take advantage of this period of relative downtime to test all the systems and train the staff. “When the market eventually opened up in April, we had already ironed out all the early difficulties of opening a new hotel. Since then, I’m pleased to say, the Embassy has been doing very well. Its size and central location in Valletta have continued to attract visitors,” he says. 

2021 has also seen Gasan Group make significant progress on another much-anticipated project, The Quad Central, of which the Group owns 50 per cent. This mixed-use development will provide an exciting mix of Grade A professional, retail, and commercial office space, all supported by a diversified range of retail and amenity outlets, ample parking facilities, and spacious landscaped outdoor areas and piazzas. The project is being labelled as a development that will set the standards for the workspace of tomorrow. Once again, sustainable design has been front and centre on this ambitious development.

“From the start, we aimed to achieve a LEED Platinum certification with The Quad Central. This is the highest certification for sustainability and green awareness in the industry. In terms of the materials we have used, such as the glass on the façade or the solar panels, it’s on a different level and much more sustainable.”

Mark hopes more developers will follow in Gasan Group’s footsteps to develop innovative buildings within the Central Business District area that put sustainability, green thinking and innovative solutions at the forefront of design.

“The whole of the Central Business District is being revitalised,” he says. Five years ago, a foundation was formed to transform the Central Business District into a commercial hub. The idea is to upscale the area to something similar to London’s Canary Wharf.”

With The Quad Central set to be fully operational by Q1 of 2022, this year is building up to be another landmark chapter in Gasan Group’s evolution. Mark’s ambition is for the Group to maintain its organic growth trajectory through its core competence areas and nurture investments that show potential to develop into new operating pillars. Over and above the business aspects however, Mark is determined to ensure Gasan Group is bringing about positive change within the sectors it operates in.

“Overall, we believe that the yardstick of our future economies will be measured by the well-being of society rather than solely by monetary benchmarks,” he concludes.

This article is part of the serialisation of 50 interviews featured in MaltaCEOs 2022 – an annual high-end publication bringing together some of the country’s most influential business leaders.

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