The GCC countries are quite different from one another. You can’t compare the UAE to Saudi Arabia or Kuwait. Businesses operating in the region, like us, have to adapt to each market, which are changing rapidly.
Alongside developing an understanding of the markets, we always keep a close eye on the brands’ performance in every category – fashion for women, men and children as well as home and accessories. An understanding of the trading sectors – mass, value or premium – is also necessary to develop the right strategy for each market.
Importantly, market conditions have changed drastically over the last 18-24 months – what we now call as the ‘new normal’. The GCC economies were buoyant for many years driven by the oil and gas industries. When challenges began to surface, there was a time lag before it hit the consumer market, which is now a reality. Hence, businesses have to define their retail strategies in sync with the changing market conditions. That’s not an easy thing to do in retail because we have to commit stock, particularly in the franchise model, at least 9-10 months in advance for the majority of the brands. Having that said, however tough the market conditions might be, there are always winners and losers.
Businesses like Liwa that are predominantly into franchised business, although we have developed some home-grown brands too, are not only at the behest of the market, but also the host brands in terms of how they are performing. That’s why in turbulent times franchised business can be a little more unpredictable.
In conversation with RetailME, Mark Tesseyman, CEO, Liwa Trading Enterprises, shares insights about general market trends and specifically about Liwa’s current and future roadmap
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