Technology, innovation reshaping the culture of ME retail industry

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20 retailers that excel in technology and innovation win the RetailME ICONS awards at a gala ceremony in Dubai .

Retailers in the Gulf countries are adopting technology and innovation to adapt to the new norm where well-informed and demanding customers want better experience in shopping and want products to be delivered faster and more seamlessly. As a result, the retail landscape has been undergoing a digital transformation for the last few years.

While a lot of retailers have struggled to adapt to the rapid pace at which these transformations are happening, there are some that have spearheaded this journey to deliver excellent results and have become examples in the industry.

In order to recognise them, Images RetailME– the largest retail information and market intelligence platform in the Middle East – launched a list to acknowledge these regional leaders in technology and marketing communications and felicitated them during an awards gala, which took place recently in the presence of more than 200 retail industry professionals, entrepreneurs and leaders.

Justina Eitzinger, Chief Operating Officer of Images RetailME, said, “While technology adoption and innovation will continue to drive the changes in the retail landscape it is marketing, branding and communications that will continue to influence consumer’s choice of shopping.”

“That’s why, we have chosen these two criteria to recognise the industry leaders and our editorial team along with the jury have selected 20 awardees – many unsung heroes who do the work behind the curtains to give us the best retail. At Images RetailME, we like to call them the Tech and Marcom ICONS.

Last year, we launched our inaugural RetailME ICONS series, where we put forth the list of 100 pioneers, visionaries, disruptors and trailblazers of the Middle East’s retail industry, who established the large and small retail conglomerates and brands. This year, we aim to celebrate and acknowledge the efforts of the tech and marcom leaders within these companies who are bringing the vision and mission of the retail owners to fruition,” she added.

As many as 13 technology leaders have won the coveted annual Images RetailME Tech ICONS awards, including Ahmad AR BinDawood, CEO at Bin Dawood Holding; Arunachalam P, Chief Technology Officer at Choithrams; Kamran Abbasi, Chief Information and Technology Officer at Chalhoub Group; Kartik Bhatt, COO at Sharaf Retail; Mark Tesseyman, CEO at Liwa Trading; Phillip Smith, Group Digital Director at Kamal Osman Jamjoom; Rahul Jagtiani, Group Director – Digital at Landmark Group; Sayed Habib, Director- Franchise, Business Development and E-Commerce at Danube Home; Somy Varghese, Senior Digital Transformation Manager at Etoile; Sudhir Syal, Chief Business Officer at Lenskart; Sunil Nair, Chief Information Officer at GMG; Dharmin Ved, CEO at 6thStreet.com and Mouna Abbassy, CEO and Founder at Izil Beauty.

Seven industry leaders in marketing and communications within the retail sector, have won the prestigious RetailME Marcom ICONS 2022 awards, including Amer Khiami, CMO at PJP Investments; Group; Anamika Priyadarshi, Head of Marketing and Corporate Communications at Jashanmal Group; Lee Devon, VP at Athlocity LLC; Mohammed Sajjad, VP Marketing and E-commerce at AZADEA Group; V Nandakumar, Director – Marketing and Communications at Lulu Group International; Siobhan, McCarthy, Chief Communications Officer at BinDawood Holding and Warwick Gird, GM – Marketing at Spinneys.

The event was organised by Images RetailME, a 17-year-old retail intelligence media brand in the Middle East.

Massive investment: Lulu Group International announced massive investment in retail sector at the RetailME Tech & Marcoms Summit and ICONS Awards.

Lulu Group International is one of the few retailers who continued expansion during the COVID-19 pandemic by opening 50 large-format outlets including 44 hypermarkets and 6 fulfilment centres from 2020 till date, to take the number of hypermarkets, shopping malls and fulfilment centres to 235 across 12 countries including the GCC, India, Malaysia, Indonesia and Egypt.

From 2020 till 2023, it has a pipeline of 91 hypermarkets and stores lined up for opening, of which, it has already opened 50 during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Despite continued headwinds including COVID-19 and other challenges, we have continued to expand our operations across the world. We never stopped growing. We are going to open 11 more hypermarkets this year and a further 27 hypermarkets and stores next year,” Nandakumar Vijayan, Director of Marketing and Corporate Communications at Lulu Group International, said at the summit.

For each hypermarket, the company usually invests around Dhs125 million, he said. The total investment in 85 hypermarkets and six stores would exceed Dhs10.62 billion in four years at this rate.

“Despite the outbreak of COVID-19, we opened 9 hypermarkets and 2 dark stores in 2020 and 24 hypermarkets and three stores in 2021 – at the height of the pandemic. We continue with our expansion this year despite the challenging environment. We have already opened 14 hypermarket and 1 store so far in 2022 with 11 more to open by the end of this year,” he said.

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