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CEO Predictions 2015: Vipen Sethi, CEO, Landmark Group

CEO Predictions 2015: Vipen Sethi, CEO, Landmark Group

The GCC’s retail growth will be supported with the opening of new malls across the region, writes Sethi.

Across the world, 2014 has been positive year for businesses as global markets achieved a good measure of stability. Consumer confidences remained guarded yet steady during the past year and this created a sense of optimism that benefitted retailers across the world.

Closer home, these positive trends reflected in double-digit growth numbers for most retailers driven by a strong influx of tourists, the presence of a modern world-class shopping infrastructure, as well as higher per-capita income and growing disposable incomes.

Trend reports state that the GCC retail market is growing steadily and is poised to reach $221 billion by 2015. This new growth will be supported with the opening of new malls and shopping destinations across the region. The UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are set to experience the maximum increase in retail space with GLA expanding to over 14.6 million square metres.

While growth numbers are very positive, the market has also faced a fair bit of challenges with growing competition, falling oil prices, increased rental increase and rising operational expenses. We, however, believe that these dynamics will stabilise and not affect businesses in the long run.

One of the key trends we witnessed in 2014 was the increased use of technology across business platforms. Technology is truly transforming businesses globally and as retailers, this has played an important role for us both at the front and back end of our operations.

We have invested in building world-class retail infrastructure, automated warehouses, efficient supply chain systems, and state- of-the-art integrated IT platforms to ensure that we can provide our customers the best product, service and a better shopping experience every single day.

On the front end, we have ventured into the e-commerce arena with Landmarkshops.com. E-commerce has blurred the lines and created a retail industry open for business anytime, anywhere and in any way the customer prefers to shop. We believe that this will be an important platform in the future.

In 2014, we also strengthened our brick and mortar business and added close to 200 new stores to our network taking our count to over 1,900 stores across 20 countries.

Landmark Group launched several new brands in the past year. We expanded our retail portfolio with the launch of our brand – Home Box and franchise brands – Yours, Left Shoe Company and Aldo (Turkey).

We also reinforced our hospitality offering with Jamba Juice, Pie-Face, and Poparazzi. Early this year, we aim to launch Fun Works, the new format Family Entertainment Centre created by Landmark Leisure. Encompassing the domains of science, arts, theatre and construction, the first Fun Works play arena will be spread across 60,000 square feet in Abu Dhabi’s Yas Mall, making it the largest adventure play destination in the region.

In 2015, we are well positioned to continue building new brands and reinforcing our store presence across the region. We are positive about the future but cautious.

Economies across the Middle East are strengthening and all economic numbers are indicating steady and positive growth. We believe that the loyalty we have built amongst customers in the region and our continued focus to deliver exceptional value will ensure that we remain market leaders in the coming year.

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