Key takeaways from the Retail Leaders Circle MENA 2022


May 5, 2022 | By Zubina Ahmed

The eight edition of the Retail Leaders Circle MENA, convened more that 2,100 eminent industry leaders, government dignitaries, decision-makers and key stakeholders from the region and around the world. As the largest and most influential retail gathering of the year in the region, the event navigated together this increasingly complex business environment, the significant changes in consumer behaviour, how brands are creating genuine connections with their customers, and how they are driving profitable and responsible growth.

Under the theme” Building Responsible and Inclusive Growth”, the 2022 Summit brought together almost more than 2000 delegates from more than 16 countries addressing the critical issues and opportunities influencing the retail industry today. With 24 thought-provoking sessions, 63%+ CEO and C- level attendees, the event presented a packed agenda of inspirational content, visionary speakers and data-driven research. This trusted and influential community of prominent retail leaders, shared also their outlook on the future, using data analysis and key trends to deal with consumers, respond effectively to the fluid landscape, and ultimately strive for growth.

Over the course of two extraordinary days, Retail Leaders Circle celebrated its 8th anniversary by bringing together another unrivalled line-up of the foremost leaders in business and policy, with the brightest entrepreneurs, founders, and innovators under one roof to set the retail agenda for the year ahead. In this year’s edition the conference will focus on five key themes that will complement the summit: Purposeful Growth: Charting a New Course, Tech Meets Human to Build a Better Future, New Consumer: Resilient and Confident.Two next-gen leaders, Saud Alsulaiman, CEO of Alsulaiman Group and Ahmad AR. BinDawood, CEO of BinDawood Holding, spoke about the important elements that legacy retail needs in order to catch up with its future.

The need to deliver meaningful and relevant experiences has only deepened during the past two years. Abdellah Iftahy, Partner at McKinsey & Company and Jhonny Jha, Associate Partner, McKinsey & Company Dubai walked us through the shifting landscape in retail, explaining the trends identified in their recent consumer sentiment survey in the region, and in two global surveys on business building. Community engagement is a crucial factor to the success of any business. Fahad Almaghrabi, Head of Global Business Solutions, Saudi Arabia, at TikTok explained the reasons why using a highly successful platform as TikTok which is based on this concept, maximizes a brand’s outreach to their customers and strengthens their engagement, embracing them as a community.

That ecommerce has been booming is nothing new. To understand the size of this increase, think about the 73 billion spent on ecommerce in Saudi Arabia in 2021, which corresponds to an average of six ecommerce transactions per household on a monthly basis. Cyrille Fabre, Senior Partner at Bain and Company, Middle East and Faraz Khalid, CEO at noon discussed spoke about the bright future of ecommerce, the great opportunities and the improvements that need to be put in place in order to fully take advantage of them. Consumer priorities have changed as well as their behaviour. Marwan Moukarzel, CEO, at Alhokair Fashion Retail spoke about the effects of these changes in the present and shared his perspective about the future of retail in the region.

The definition of metaverse is quite complex as it involves the combination of multiple elements of technology, while it focuses on the concept of “presence”. Anna Germanos – Head of CPG, Retail, at Meta, Christine Assouad – Founder & CEO, at Catalyst of Growth, Dunkin Lebanon & Semsom, Jason English – Co-founder & Chief Ecosystem Officer, at CG Tech, and Hervé Larren – Founder & CEO, at Airvey Metaverse LLC explained why talking about the metaverse and considering it as an element of a successful marketing strategy is imperative.

Patrick Chalhoub, Group President of Chalhoub Group spoke about the values that have emerged during the past two years and the positive developments happening in Saudi Arabia. A level of zero emissions can have a big impact, but it might not be enough. The Real Estate sector has a great opportunity to create a positive effect and contribute with solutions of future-proof benefit. Ahmed Ismail, CEO at Majid Al-Futtaim Properties outlined the importance of net positive as indicative of a growing responsibility for the common good as none of us have a plan B for this planet and all of us have a vested interest in the sustainability of our cities and our communities.

GCC luxury market to reach $11 billion by 2023: Chalhoub Group

Technology, especially AI, enables delivery companies to better analyse the trends on consumption patterns, understanding their customers’ behaviour better and increase the convenience and the personalization of their services. Hamad Albakr, CCO at Jahez explained why and how their food delivery app is very successful in Saudi Arabia. A very interesting dynamic developed during the last two years in the interaction between digital and physical environments, creating a new landscape in retail. There is no doubt shoppers are keen to get back into stores post lockdown, but they want to also keep all the advantages that technology has to offer. Abdulla Alhammadi, Regional Business Lead at Snap Inc. in KSA walked us through this new reality of the retail landscape.
The future of retail will be about defining new collaborative relationships within ecosystems designed and created to support better decision making.

Hosted in partnership with the Saudi Conventions and Exhibitions General Authority (SCEGA), the Retail Leaders Circle MENA Summit took place in Riyadh from 22-23 March at the Hotel Fairmont Riyadh. The summit had participation of more than 60 regional and international business leaders from top organizations as speakers at the summit, including Chalhoub Group, Visa, AlHokair Fashion Retail, Hamat, Majid Al Futtaim, stc, Jahez International Company, Noon, Al Futtaim Group, TikTok, Snap, Alsulaiman Group, Unified and BinDawood Holding. Arabian Centres joined as the strategic partner for the event.

“We are thrilled to announce such a stellar line-up of speakers for our return to Riyadh for the 8th edition of the Retail Leaders Circle MENA Summit this month,” commented Panos Linardos, Chairman, Retail Leaders Circle. We are all excited that the 8th Retail Leaders Circle MENA Summit returned to Riyadh as all eyes are on its thriving retail scene. We had the opportunity after a long time to be together, exchange ideas and plans and share valuable insights and trends. This motivates us to continue bringing together the retail elite and meet our commitment to reinvent the industry norms in real-time, concluded Panos Linardos, Chairman, Retail Leaders Circle.

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