February 23, 2024 | By Anurima Das

GMG’s Health and Beauty division provides a 360-degree, holistic approach to health and beauty by supporting overall well-being through nutrition, medicines, skin and body care, vitamins & supplements, and more. It has extensive expertise in retailing and distributing a vast portfolio of brands, including four concepts (Supercare Pharmacy, Good Heath, Arabella, and Glu) and distribution rights of over 80 international brands with over 100 own retail stores. Keeping GMG’s commitment to growth in the backdrop, we spoke to Marko Dakovic, President – Health & Beauty, at GMG.

Here’s an excerpt.

Can you provide insights into the current state of the health and beauty market in the Middle East, considering GMG’s leadership stance in the sector?

Well, post-COVID, we’ve observed significant changes in the health and beauty market in the Middle East. Consumer behaviour has been shifting towards online purchasing, impacting traditional brick-and-mortar sales. Additionally, geopolitical factors have influenced logistical challenges and supply inflation, affecting the market dynamics. Our region has seen shifts due to these pressures, including increased competition and strategic moves by countries like Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The UAE in particular has been progressively opening up, aiding in the recovery, and bolstering the healthcare market.

How does GMG balance the shift from offline to online sales, and what percentage of your business is currently online versus offline?

Currently, our business primarily operates through brick-and-mortar stores, but we will be launching our Supercare application, along with the launch of our renewed online platform to provide an even more seamless experience to our customers. In addition, existing services like 800-SUPER, enable customers to order medicines or any other products via phone or WhatsApp for fast delivery. This approach will benefit our consumers, especially for urgent medical needs, allowing them to receive products within the shortest possible time.

What are GMG’s priorities for 2024? Are there any global launches or significant product tie-ups planned?

We’re focusing on introducing new and trendy brands, especially in categories like beauty, bath and body, and sports nutrition. With over 80 existing exclusive distribution and own brands in our portfolio, we will be launching more than 20 new brands in categories like beauty, bath and body, and sports nutrition in the next six months. Our strategy revolves around offering a differentiated assortment to stand out in the market. We are always looking to introduce successful international brands in our stores and beyond the UAE. In the coming months, we will be launching new global emerging brands in categories like oral care, bath, and body and skincare.

Is there a special focus on homegrown brands or trends like vegan and cruelty-free products?

Absolutely, our assortment already includes organic, vegan, and cruelty-free brands, reflecting ongoing trends in the market. We continuously strive to cater to these segments and provide options that align with consumer preferences. We prioritize highlighting the unique selling propositions of our products, such as being organic, vegan, cruelty-free, ethically and sustainably sourced, aligning with the same consumer mindset and trend. This dedication to quality and sustainability extends across various brands in different categories, including Sigma Beauty, Bluebonnet Nutrition, The Organic Pharmacy, and numerous others As a result of the all-encompassing perspective of the prevalent well-being movement, we have introduced as well our very own beauty concept, GLU, which prioritizes the provision of consumer products with the intent of granting them such benefits creating a one-stop holistic destination for all their needs.

What are the top three growing categories in your sector for the upcoming years?

Skin and beauty products, food supplements, and sports nutrition are witnessing growth trends. While the growth might not be as significant as during the COVID period, these categories continue to expand, driven by consumer interest in wellness and fitness.

As a leader, what are the top three retail trends you emphasize for 2024?

Firstly, maintaining our role as a preferred provider of well-being products remains a priority. Secondly, we focus on wellness products, including skincare and supplements, reflecting on the recent increase in consumer awareness and demand. Lastly, we anticipate continued growth in categories like skincare and nutrition due to heightened consumer education and interest.

How do you perceive the role of AI and technology in shaping the future of retail, considering the upcoming launch of your app?

I believe at the moment everyone is trying to see what the next big thing is going to be. While we’re still exploring AI and technology adoption in retail, we’re closely monitoring industry trends and best practices. Currently, we don’t see a significant impact, but we acknowledge the potential for rapid change. We aim to stay informed and adapt to technological advancements positively.

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