RetailME ICONS 2021: 100 most powerful retail leaders recognised


August 8, 2021 | By Shruthi Nair

RetailME announced a roster of the 100 most powerful retailers in the Middle East – in the first industry-wide comprehensive audit in the MENA region’s US$1 trillion retail industry, during an award ceremony on August 4, 2021 at the JW Marriott Marquis.

RetailME ICONS, the MENA region’s first-ever retail power list, realigned the industry along with the changing retail environment that has been shifting from the traditional brick-and-mortar to omnichannel retailing accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The list has been divided into four overarching categories – Legends, Pioneers and Visionaries, Disruptors, and Trailblazers.

“We are proud to attract all the key players in the industry in this list – which is difficult to adjudge due to the complex nature of such a practice that has been well accomplished by a panel of eminent jury. This is a landmark ceremony in the history of the retail industry in the Middle East. It is also the most comprehensive and only credible list of 100 most powerful retail icons from the MENA region,” Justina Eitzinger, Chief Operating Officer of Images RetailME, says.

“This list was put together on the basis of nominations received, jury scoring, and editorial selection. The retailers that have made it to the list have demonstrated great leadership, provided examples of innovation, expanded their operations over the years, proven their legacy, and have received great testimonies from peers and colleagues in the industry. We have also considered factors including the total number of stores or total retail area, number of employees they manage, leadership during crisis, and recent transformations.

“The 100 most powerful retail icons reflect who the most important retail leaders in the region are. As digital disruption deepens, the industry will see a sea of change in the retail environment where digitally-focused new players might take over some of the established players due to the changing retail landscape.”

Organised by Images RetailME, a 16-year-old retail intelligence media brand in the Middle East with 45,000+ strong print readership and over 100,000 digital reach across the MENA region, the prestigious event represents an industry that serves 411 million people across 22 countries in the MENA region.

This is the first of its kind power list announcement to have taken place in the Middle East at a gala ceremony in the presence of industry leaders aimed at celebrating, acknowledging and awarding the most influential leaders in MENA’s retail sector that are leading the digital transformation of the growing industry that generates an estimated US$1.02 trillion (Dh3.74 trillion) in sales per year.

With an estimated US$202 per capita monthly spent, the total annual retail spend by the MENA region’s 411 million people is estimated to cross US$1 trillion per annum.

Yusuffali MA, Chairman and Managing Director of Lulu Group, says, “I feel honoured and proud to be adjudged as the top industry icon of the retail industry. As the retail sector recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic and transforms itself from the brick-and-mortar model to omnichannel, it is important to recognise the heroes of this transformative journey.

“The initiative by RetailME is excellent and commendable. It is heartening to see that so many of my colleagues have also been recognised by RetailME. This initiative will go a long way to inspire retailers to transform and evolve from the current pandemic.”

The unveiling of the 100 retail icons comes at a time when the estimated retail e-commerce sales in the Middle East jumped to $55.40 billion (Dh203. 31 billion) in 2020, compared to $22.20 billion (Dh81. 7 billion) in 2015. Still, e-commerce sale represents only 2-3 per cent of the total retail sales in the MENA region – which has accelerated after the COVID-19 pandemic that forces people to stay at home and maintain social distance.

Laila Mohammed Suhail, CEO, Strategic Alliance and Partnership, DTCM, says, “The success of the retail sector is amazing. The way it has been transforming itself and evolving from the COVID-19 pandemic is remarkable and calls for celebration.”

Congratulating those who made it to the list of the 100 most powerful retail icons, she said, the industry will continue to transform and retailers will have to change their business model in line with the changing retail landscape.

“I’m glad that RetailME has taken the initiative to put together this comprehensive list of the top 100 retailers. It is the right time to acknowledge and appreciate their contributions to the industry and wider economy. It has been a very challenging and exciting experience in putting this list together. In the end, it came out well and I am happy to be part of the process,” she said.

The Retail Legends included Yusuffali MA, Chairman and Managing Director of Lulu Group International; Fawaz Al Hokair, Chairman of Alhokair Group; Majid Al Futtaim, Executive Chairman of Majid Al Futtaim Group; Mohamed Alabbar, Founder of Emaar Properties and Noon.com; Micky Jagtiani, Founder of Landmark Group; and Mohammed Alshaya, Executive Chairman of Alshaya Group.

The list was dominated by retail leaders from the UAE – a country where the retail sale is expected to cross US$58 billion (Dh212.86 billion) in 2021, according to Dubai Chamber.

Adjudged by a jury that includes a panel of industry experts such as Laila Mohammed Suhail, CEO of Strategic Alliance and Partnership at the DTCM, Anurag Bajpai, Head of Consumer and Retail, KPMG Lower Gulf, Mohammad Alawi, Partner and CEO of REDS Company, Mohamed Galal, Chairman and Managing Director of Misr Real Estate Assets, Hozefa Saylawala, Director of Sales at Zebra Technologies and Amitabh Taneja, Chairman of Images Group, the illustrious retail tycoons were ranked under four categories – Legends, Pioneers and Visionaries, Disruptors and Trailblazers.

Hozefa Saylawala, a member of the Jury and Director of Sales at Zebra Technologies, said, “The future of the retail industry will be dominated by those who embrace e-commerce fast and benefit from the early mover advantage. What we have put together today, is going to change in the next year and the year after and I’m sure RetailME ICONS will create a benchmark in the industry ranking in the Middle East. We are happy and proud to be part of that transformation as a partner and as an enabler and industry change accelerator.”

“COVID-19 has undoubtedly changed business dynamics across several sectors and the retail sector, in particular, has bravely overcome the challenges of lockdowns, reduced sales and store closures.

On behalf of DAMAC, I would like to congratulate the retail fraternity on showing resilience and patience and an event like this is important to show our support and celebrate the leaders who are facilitating the sustenance of the entire retail ecosystem,” said Amit Puri, Vice President-Leasing at Damac Properties.

“The retail industry globally is going through a transformation at a pace unseen before. It is great to see the retail leaders of this region stepping up to be part of this change. It was indeed a pleasure to participate in this iconic event, a great platform and initiative to recognize Retailers for their contribution in facing the current day challenges” said Vishal Mahajan, Director, Dubai Outlet Mall.

The event has been sponsored by Damac Properties, Dubai Outlet Mall, Zebra Technologies, Tealium, Board, Dunli Group, Guardex, Khaleej Times, Bateel, Feel Good Tea and Maskie.

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