‘Covid-19 has been the best Chief Technology Officer’: Patrick Chalhoub


November 25, 2020 | By Shruthi Nair

The Middle East Retail Forum 2020 kicked off with its first fireside chat with Patrick Chalhoub, CEO of the Chalhoub Group on the unprecedented opportunities during the crisis.

“Covid is the best CTO we ever thought about”, said Chalhoub speaking about how the pandemic accelerated various processes across the board.

Retailers across the region stepped on the gas to reach out to their customers, build and maintain relationships and retain their loyal customers, and during the lockdown, the only way to do that was through digital platforms.

“We have been connected with our customers by giving them the touch digitally. We also started working better with technology collectively as we moved to WFH. And now, we are giving people the physical-digital experience – so it has been an accelerator”, he said.

What do the customers want?

Consumers, especially this year, have been increasingly craving a personal, human touch. They are looking for things that add value to their lives, are meaningful, have purpose and are closer to them and their families.

“Millennials represent 30% of the business in luxury and in a few years will represent over 50%. So it’s a generation that thinks differently”, said Chalhoub.

“Millennials today want something that is meaningful. They want things that have a purpose, are sustainable, for their own pleasure and not just to impress others. We find this in luxury. We need to transform the way of reaching them. They have as much to learn from us that we need to learn from them”, he added.

Next Normal

As the term ‘new’ gives way to ‘next’ normal, the very definition of normalcy has changed. “We need agility to do business. We need to understand that the new reality will have a lot of crisis and challenges and we should be prepared to face it”, said Chalhoub.

The Chalhoub Group use the term ‘deep transformation’ instead of ‘digital transformation’ as all aspects of retail are undergoing a transformation with people as its crux and core. “Deep transformation – as it was a transformation of the way we behave, function and work. For us, this began three years ago. Covid- accelerated it”, he added.

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