Retailer set to pump over AED 250 billion into retail sector by 2017
UAE - Dubai 28 January 2016: aswaaq will be investing more than AED 250 million into the UAE’s retail sector between now and the end of 2017, for the implementation of its strategic plan for the short and medium term.
The announcement was made during the company’s fourth annual gathering, which honored employees, partners, tenants, suppliers, and customers. There were several key initiatives on the agenda; however aswaaq’s investment plans drew most interest, as it revealed its priorities for expansion across Dubai and the rest of the UAE, in particular Abu Dhabi, Fujairah and Ajman.
In talking about the future for aswaaq and the prospects for development, CEO Mr. Yousuf Sharaf confirmed the company is completely focused on achieving its vision 2021, which entails implementing a successful business model (across the region) with a number of set objectives, starting with 2016. Its short terms goals are to give customers in Dubai a superior shopping experience, with the larger goal (by 2021) to have aswaaq as a renowned name in the regional retail sector.
Deputy CEO of aswaaq, Mr. Affan Khouri, emphasized the company considers many factors when it comes to delivery of successful growth, potential new locations or additional investment, evaluating areas such as population density and location of residential and business premises. He also stressed that aswaaq plans to increase its retail sector footprint by an additional 100,000 square feet during the coming period, and that the company had achieved a quantum leap (by industry standards) in achieving a growth rate that exceeded 14 per cent over the past 12 months.
Sharaf also touched on aswaaq’s strategy since its launch; how it has achieved interaction across different sectors and taken advantage of the UAE’s position as the second largest global trade market for shopping via smartphones. Last year saw the launch of its online shopping platform that is paired with several payment options and its customer loyalty program ‘wafa’ has proved to be a success, rewarding customers and providing cash back of 10 per cent. Its popularity is reflected by the number of members to date, which has exceeded 160,000 across 188 different nationalities.
Further emphasis of the importance of innovation to the retailer was confirmed by the management team’s commitment to keeping pace with rapid technological development, in line with Dubai’s Smart Government strategy. The UAE is one of the top ten countries in the world on the UNCTAD E-commerce Index, and having already launched a new app, aswaaq is considering a number of new initiatives to enhance its retail experience. These include the adoption and development of biometric identification systems that will recognize a person’s identity through their fingerprints and physical characteristics, and the Internet of Things, which would radically change the concepts of shopping with cash, credit cards and even mobile smart devices.
The audience was also given insight into aswaaq’s operational policies on quality and food safety, and in particular the strict implementation of procedures and high standards in achieving its HACCP certificate. As an internationally recognized system for reducing the risk of safety hazards in food, it reflects aswaaq’s dedication to providing the highest quality standards of food safety.
Aligned to the retailer’s ongoing commitment to corporate social responsibility (CSR) a number of strategies were presented, including the development of a ‘sustainable business agenda,’ which aims to promote initiatives that minimize their environmental footprint and achieve water and waste sustainability. aswaaq will also be rolling out several additional CSR activities to support health, education and charitable organizations.
Complementing its role within the community, aswaaq supported an initiative in conjunction with the Community Development Authority – the Sanad & Thukher card. The card is only issued to the elderly and those with special needs, providing discounts on all products without exception across all its stores.
aswaaq also takes its role as an Emirati organization very seriously, and will continue its involvement in helping to drive entrepreneurialism throughout the country. Thus far, the company has leased nearly 60 commercial units within their centers to young Emiratis, as well as almost 40 UAE companies specializing in supplying products to department stores and retail shops.
At the conclusion of the annual gathering, Mr. Yousuf Sharaf thanked the audience, stressing that when aswaaq was launched more than six years ago, it was a small business looking to take a foothold in the UAE market. Now, it has grown to be a recognized brand in a competitive marketplace that was worth more than AED 151 billion last year. It has been quite a journey, but this is just the beginning.