There are inherent similarities across GCC markets, although a market like Dubai is much more international in terms of its customer profile. Also, trading patterns tend to vary in specific markets in terms of time of the year and day of the month. Hence, we seek to ensure that we offer what consumers in a specific market want at the right time.
Competition has become stiff. We have come from greenfield markets 50 years ago to the extremely tight and competitive commercial battlefield of today – and that too in multiple aspects of business. In those days, businessmen willing to take risks and invest back were few and far between. Now everyone wants to join the retail bandwagon.
Back then we lacked adequate expertise to start and grow a retail business but now expertise is available in abundance, though competition is strong, keeping us rather busy and making it imperative for every business to constantly innovate to remain relevant. This could be in several forms – creating a customised customer engagement platform or an online ordering platform or even leveraging technology to build customer loyalty.
Another aspect that’s as crucial as innovation is offering excellent customer service. Even though our family business started small, ensuring customer satisfaction was always considered pivotal. My father Hassan Mohammed Jawad started a small grocery business in Manama along with a ship-chandelling business way back in 1960 when Mina Salman did not have a deep water port.
Humble beginnings yes, but we never let a customer go unhappy from our grocery store, ever. I was a child but I remember whenever we did not have a product a customer wanted, my father would ensure he acquired it somehow and had me go to the customer’s house to deliver it. That was the kind of customer service we believed in back then. No wonder I still like shopping at departmental stores that offer great
Over the years our grocery business grew rapidly and expanded into a chain of major supermarkets and convenience stores – but our motto always remained offering good quality, thereby gaining the trust of our consumers.
It is this trust that has helped us start different verticals like branded international restaurants, fashion retail, fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) distribution of key international consumer brands, all of which have grown into sizeable operating divisions, with our portfolio today including fashion retail, restaurants & cafés, FMCG distribution, convenience stores, travel and leisure.
And knock on wood, all divisions are doing well. The business has generally seen a good run across markets and segments with casual dining and quick service restaurants and cafés, footwear, ladies fashion and home segments registering higher growth rates.
We strongly believe that executing excellence on the shop-floor every day is what brings success. I’m certain there’s room for every format to attain success if the management executes the concept flawlessly, making every customer happy in the process.
That’s surely not all. Along with satisfying our customers, our core philosophy entails strong commitment to taking care of our employees, who are our best assets. It’s this underlying culture that makes every colleague feel proud of working for the brand – Jawad Business Group. Our vision, mission and values were created at the turn of the century through a long and arduous process that saw every employee contribute to what has been a defining document guiding our organisation.
Apart from paying a competitive compensation package, we also have lucrative incentive plans in place directly linked to work performance. We encourage all our colleagues to put in their best and be rewarded in the bargain. We institute a number of awards and trophies every year, which are won by our deserving colleagues.
As always, the proof of the pudding is in the eating! Last year, we received the 2013 People’s Practice Award from Brinker International in Dallas, parent of the Chili’s restaurant brand, a Fortune 500 organisation. According to them, the way we treated our people was the most outstanding among all Brinker franchisees across the globe. That’s a wonderful feat, one I’m particularly proud of.
Along with opportunities come challenges as well. In a business as diverse as ours, there’s a challenge lurking at every corner. It could be operations related, or something to do with inventory or finance. We could have an HR challenge or with a landlord or sometimes even a customer. The angles where challenges emanate from are almost infinite. So is the number of challenges. The key is to take them in your stride and work with the executive team to find creative solutions to not only deal with each challenge but come out wiser.
For example, during the height of the unrest in Bahrain a little over two years ago we lost revenues worth millions of dollars, while obviously having to bear all fixed costs. Bahrain is where we are based so we are well-penetrated in every trade area in the country. We had to be pragmatic, not panic but decisively and swiftly deal with the situation – for the circumstances were extremely volatile.
We dealt with each challenge from every quarter head on, resolved each problem one after the other. We hope to continue to build on our momentum and grow the organisation further. I’m sure there will be other challenges waiting for us but I know we’re ready.
There is no doubt retail has a degree of glamour associated with it but I would not confuse that with it being among the most lucrative sectors. True, relative margins are perhaps higher in retail, but like in every business things could go wrong in retail too and it does not take time for costs to sky-rocket if an element beyond your control flares up or if you make a mistake!
Now on a positive note, despite challenges I feel retail as a sector will continue to flourish in this region for several reasons. Take fashion retail as an example. Fashion is temporary by nature and we know the consumer in the Middle East has great appetite for fashion retail. So opportunities are constantly generated to keep bringing fresh ideas in products.
Population growth – local as well as expatriate – will also continue to drive normal growth while events of great magnitude – be it commercial like the Expo 2020 or sporting like the Football World Cup – will keep the region in the global spotlight. And all of this will point
to growth in retail.
Moving beyond the Middle East, we have already made an investment in India – in restaurant chains Papa John’s Pizza and Chili’s, both of which are doing reasonably well. India is a strong yet different market and it will take some gestation period before a business starts to run away from its original size. We remain interested in opportunities immediately outside the GCC – as and when a suitable possibility crops up, we are sure to lap it up.
Every business we undertake, we try to make it as lucrative as possible through providing quality and consistency at fair value. Ultimately it’s our customers who decide whether our business deserves to be lucrative. – As told to Rupkatha Bhowmick
Faisal Hassan Jawad is chairman and CEO of Bahrain-based Jawad Business Group, which operates around 550 stores across the GCC in different formats. He is married with four children and two grandchildren. Jawad likes to spend his spare time reading and gardening, while skiing andsailing are his favourite sports – he likes to work out as well to stay fit. And his preferred holidaydestinations are the US and Europe.
According to a report by the United Nations, the fashion industry accountsFebruary 18, 2021 | By Shruthi Nair
The jewellery making industry has been under tremendous scrutiny over the yearsFebruary 11, 2021 | By Shruthi Nair
UAE-based Carrefour will become the first retailer in the region to offer new levels
The Organic Farmers’ Market is back in Bay Avenue for its 12th
UAE-based Lulu Group recently inaugurated its first-ever all-female staff store in Jeddah,
Jones the Grocer, the gourmet grocer and cheese retailer launches the Jones
UAE-based Al Maya Supermarkets is hosting a two-week food festival at select
Locally-owned supermarket Spinneys has launched its ‘Power of Plants’ initiative in the
Carrefour UAE has launched “Cookit Yourself” — a curated recipe box created
UAE-based Al Islami Foods, one of the largest frozen food companies in
Marks & Spencer’s plant-based range now offers over 25 vegan products including meat-free
World’s largest fully integrated online brand in fresh fish and meat e-commerce
Homegrown, organic and plant milk company, Koita has announced its expansion into
The UAE is known to be a global hub for a range
Legal and social barriers that exist for women’s access to jobs is
UAE-based Emaar Malls have announced the resignation of its CEO, Rajiv Suri
Every human being on this planet is a customer. There isn’t a
The unprecedented challenges of 2020 made way for the untapped opportunities that
The UAE cabinet announced this week that the 100% foreign ownership law,
The non-oil trade between Saudi Arabia and Bahrain increased 43% to $688.4
MRF 2020 which will take place at the Conrad Dubai Hotel on November 25, 2020, will
Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF) returns for its 26th edition from December 17
The Sultanate of Oman is planning to introduce a 5% value-added tax (VAT)
The UK Government will pay two thirds of the wages of staff
UAE-based supermarket chain Spinneys sees “dramatic changes” in shopping patterns since the