Infuse values with data: Isobel Abulhoul


November 3, 2023 | By Rupkatha B

Isobel Abulhoul Co-Founder, Magrudy’s

“We have stayed relevant to our customers, generation-after-generation, by listening to them and being attentive to global happenings” – IMAGES RetailME’s exclusive interview with Isobel Abulhoul Co-Founder, Magrudy’s

The first Magrudy’s store came up on Ittihad Road in Dubai in 1975 as an educational toy shop that also had books. Owing to my background in education, I didn’t feel constrained by the format – that a toy store couldn’t have books and vice versa. I set about contacting toy manufacturers and book publishers. I used to type out letters and mail them. The internet didn’t exist back then.

We contacted several publishers, mostly in the UK, and placed orders from some 60-70 different companies. Magrudy’s had a good selection of children’s books and educational toys. Children loved visiting Magrudy’s initially for toys and gradually gravitated towards books. At that time, such cross merchandising was unusual. In that sense, Magrudy’s set a trend that is common now in bookstores.

As a family business, we have old fashioned values, but we are very modern in our approach of doing business. We leverage data, technology and undertake a fair amount of research. In the initial days itself, even before most other bookstores were computerised, we invested in software specialist Bookseller – a technology that a bookshop in Cambridge was using quite early in the day. Bestseller used to develop websites back then; eventually, Amazon bought Bookseller. Magrudy’s was the only bookshop then, due to the technology we used, which could order any book in print.

Over the years, the way people shop has evolved. They are seen to be purchasing more and more online, and as retailers we must be aware of these changes and adapt quickly. That’s what we have done at Magrudy’s by starting to retail across channels. We have not only curated one of the most extensive collections of books but also increased our omnichannel footprint. Importantly, we have built Magrudy’s as a safe place for everyone offering products that our customers can trust. We came into the business with “from our family to your” value, which is where our heart will always be.

The full story was published in the November 2014 edition of IMAGES RetailME and the excerpt is part of the September 2023 ‘Leadership Stories Collector’s Edition’.

Link to purchase a copy: https://www.imagesretailme.com/e-magazine/

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