Innovation, Collaboration, Growth are Key as GCC Retail Market Remain on Track to Reach $308 Billion in 2023; Immense growth potential for Retailers in Saudi - MRF 2023

  • Oct. 24, 2023
Innovation, Collaboration, Growth are Key as GCC Retail Market Remain on Track to Reach $308 Billion in 2023; Immense growth potential for Retailers in Saudi - MRF 2023

· Sharing growth plans at MRF 2023, Alshaya Group CEO John Hadden said, “Our plan is to open 250 more Starbucks outlets annually, aiming for 3,000 outlets in the next five years from the current 2,000.”

· “We're determined to build our presence, aiming to make a significant impact in the KSA market over the next 5-10 years,” shared Sunil Kumar, CEO, Spinneys.

· “The region will continue to offer unique opportunities with great growth potential for brands in the GCC over the next 20 years,” observed Dr. Günther Helm, Chief Executive Officer - Cenomi Retail.

The annual IMAGES RetailME recognised exemplary practices and contributions of the retail community, which plays a significant role in the region's economy. Awardees included key players such as Apparel Group, SPLASH, Al Ain Farms, Ajmal Perfumes, Lulu Hypermarket, Dubai Duty Free, ADNOC Distribution, Centrepoint, ENOC Link, STARBUCKS among several others.

20 October 2023, Dubai, UAE: The 12th edition of the Middle East Retail Forum (MRF) 2023, hosted by IMAGES RetailME, a prominent source of retail intelligence, concluded on a high note, offering valuable insights into the future of the retail market in the GCC region. The event also celebrated and acknowledged key players who have made significant contributions to the retail industry through innovation and trendsetting initiatives.

MRF 2023, one of the largest events on the IMAGES RetailME calendar, once again brought the retail industry stalwarts together to discuss the future and evolution of the $308 billion retail industry.

This year's forum saw more than hundred seasoned retail experts convening to shed light on the technological transformations and commemorate the substantial growth witnessed within the billion-dollar Middle Eastern retail industry exploring the immense potential of newer markets such as Saudi Arabia. The enriching panel discussions predominantly revolved around sustainable and socially responsible business models, all while celebrating the remarkable expansion of indigenous retail brands in the region. These discussions took place in the context of the booming Middle East retail industry, which has exhibited impressive growth.

Commenting on the forum, Amitabh Taneja, Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of IMAGES Group, emphasised the importance of innovation, collaboration, and transformation in the

realm of retail. “Retail is a culmination of many moving parts and retailers stitch these parts with innovation through meaningful collaboration and taking the right approach to transform their growth narrative. We at IMAGES RetailME have always acted as a catalyst for important conversations within the retail sector, encouraging retailers to collaborate for change and growth. MFR 2023 was a testament to these efforts, bringing forth discussions on innovation and best practices in the retail business.”

The event recently took place at the Address Dubai Marina under the theme 'Innovate. Collaborate. Transform’ which saw retail leaders discuss who trends driving the industry forward.

Talking about the growing opportunities in the Middle East region, John Hadden, CEO, Alshaya Group said, "Amidst vast opportunities, the Middle East stands out as a thriving retail hub. With 90% of our revenue coming from key countries like Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the UAE and Kuwait, our journey in the region continues to flourish. Notably, we've seen significant growth in female workforce participation in Saudi Arabia, while the expanding presence of Starbucks amid healthy competition is driving our ambition further. Our plan is to open 250 more outlets annually, aiming for 3,000 outlets in the next five years from the current 2,000."

Meanwhile, commenting on customer behavioural changes, Rajat Asthana, COO, Eros Group opined, "Acknowledging the digital era, we understand that technology profoundly influences customer behaviour, as e-commerce platforms reshape retail, empowering well-informed customers who seamlessly transition between online and offline, seeking value.”

But challenges remain as retailers seek to offer hyper-personalised customer experience. In this context, Fahed Ghanim, CEO Lifestyle, Majid Al Futtaim said, “We believe embracing innovations and providing customer centric product and services have been always crucial, even more so now. Today, we need more advanced technology and tools for personalised customer insights through data collection, to enhance customer engagement and stay adaptable to change.”

Staying with the role of technology, Neeraj Teckchandani, CEO & Director of Apparel Group shared his thoughts on data optimisation. "Data is invaluable. AI has empowered us in various departments, from HR and Marketing to Legal and Finance, with tools like ChatGPT helping us optimise our business for over 100 million users. Our success is rooted in understanding the customer journey and utilising data to deliver an exceptional experience. The results have been outstanding."

Offering a glimpse into the growth prospects in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Dr. Günther Helm, Chief Executive Officer - Cenomi Retail said, “We see the Saudi and UAE markets as having immense growth potential, especially in Saudi Arabia, where there are multiple ways to tap into opportunities. Saudi Arabia has been embracing new technological trends, and success requires adapting to diverse customer expectations. It's essential to recognize the ongoing importance of human labor alongside AI when navigating the market. So, I believe the challenge is to train the workforce to maximize the benefits of AI-powered technology."

Commenting on Spinney’s expansion to the Saudi Arabian market, Sunil Kumar, CEO, Spinneys said, "As Spinneys approaches a century of operations in the region by 2024, we're excited about our 60-year history in the UAE and our upcoming entry into the Saudi Arabian market, beginning in Riyadh in 2024. It's both a challenge and an opportunity, as research

shows that the top 10 retailers in Saudi Arabia only hold 23% of the market share, offering substantial growth potential. While we're starting from scratch, we're determined to build our presence, aiming to make a significant impact in the KSA market over the next 5-10 years.”

Hosting the discussion on the evaluation of retail, Keynote speaker Chris Chong, CEO, Retail & Workspace, CapitaLand said “Honoured to be invited as a keynote speaker to share insights on future trends and the transformation of retail at this prestigious event in Dubai. It was a remarkable experience to exchange ideas and engage with valued leaders and visionaries of the sector. I look forward to closer collaborations with the retail community across the GCC region as we shape the future of retail together.”

Vic Bageria, Founder & CEO of Xpandretail, powered by Sàvant Data System, highlighted the significant role of technology and data in enhancing the retail industry's potential. “Technology implementations and harnessing the potential of data have injected excitement at every phase of retail. Through our partnership with MRF, we've fostered vital discussions around AI and the transformative force of data in the industry. What's intriguing is that today, every category and sector of retail is wholeheartedly embracing data to enhance their processes."

Sweety Lulla, General Manager of Operations at CION Lighting Technologies, expressed her gratitude for being part of the MRF for the third consecutive year." As we participate in the forum for the third consecutive year, we extend our sincere gratitude to Images RetailME for their meticulous event planning. We eagerly look forward to continued participation in the future. The entire team's dedication was evident in creating an event that brought together retail pioneers, showcased the latest technological advancements, and facilitated meaningful discussions on making retail a customer-centric experience. The Gala Awards, a truly special occasion, have grown in grandeur over time."

Like every year, the IMAGES RetailME Awards followed MRF. Having received a galore of nominations from retailers in the region, these were reviewed by a qualified panel of jury members. During the gala ceremony, more than 27 awards were presented. These awards recognised the achievements of retailers in the region who have shown the courage to think out-of-the-box and introduce innovative retail concepts.