Alabbar urges industry leaders to focus on more innovation - GulfToday

Alabbar urges industry leaders to focus on more innovation


Mohamed Alabbar along other officials at UAERG Food Service Forum and IMAGES RetailME Food Business Forum.

In the wake of the thriving food industry landscape in the MENA region, industry titans converged at the UAERG Food Service Forum and IMAGES RetailME Food Business Forum held at the JW Marriott Hotel Marina in Dubai on Thursday. The events witnessed an impressive gathering of over 400 attendees, 100+ speakers, and 20+ sessions, embodying a collective endeavour to explore novel prospects and foster innovation within the Hotel, Restaurant and Catering (HoReCa) and Food and Grocery Retail sectors.

Expressing the power of the ecosystem Mohamed Alabbar, Founder of Noon, acknowledged the importance of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the food business landscape. He said, “We are blessed with a very safe and secure environment for the industry to grow, thanks to the leadership of the country. So, we should take greater care of the country’s economy.  SMEs account for approximately 70 per cent of the 30,000 food outlets in Dubai, forming the bedrock of our economy. We must encourage the growth of local, home-grown brands.”

Amitabh Taneja, Editor in Chief of IMAGES Retail ME, emphasised the significance of collective action in propelling the industry forward. He said, “The UAE’s food service market is expected to grow at a remarkable CAGR of 17.09 percent, potentially reaching $43.98 billion by 2029. We believe that the food business at large is a critical part of the overall retail ecosystem. Moreover, the Food & Grocery retail business in MENA is set to touch the $216.3-billion- mark by 2026. This is an opportune time, and we clearly see that the consumer is evolving faster than ever. Keeping this in mind, we are constantly creating platforms that catalyses retail conversations to help nurture growth for the ecosystem. The Food Business Forum and the UAERG Food Service Forum are a culmination of our efforts to create a podium for the industry to innovate, collaborate, and nurture best practices and ideas for success.”

The morning hours of the conference delved deeper into understanding the nuances of the food business through the lens of industry leaders such as Panchali Mahendra, CEO of Atelier House, a global hospitality chain, who highlighted the importance of enhancing customer experience by balancing technology implementation with human touch. On the other hand, George Kunnappally, Managing Director of Nandos-UAE, spoke about the choice of implementing technology, only if necessary. While the industry leaders from the food service industry shared their culinary secrets to success, the food and grocery industry leaders touched upon the trends dominating the MENA region and how the CEOs and their teams are navigating the ever-changing grocery landscape with the right strategies and actions.

Muhammad Adeel Anjum, the CEO for Circle K Arabia, highlighted the rapid growth and future potential of the grocery industry. He said, “The MENA grocery retail sector is undergoing a significant transformation, with an increased focus on technology and consumer convenience. The integration of advanced supply chain solutions and real-time analytics is enabling us to meet the dynamic needs of our customers more efficiently.” 

Mohamed Al Hashemi, Chief Executive Officer, Union Coop mentioned, “Sustainability and local sourcing are at the forefront of our strategy. By prioritising these aspects, we not only support the local economy but also ensure the long-term viability of our operations. Our aim is to lead the way in providing high-quality, locally-sourced products to our customers.”

Further during the day through the conversations at IMAGES RetailME Food Business Forum, the varied aspects of the MENA grocery landscape were brought under the spotlight. While key leaders discussed role of technology and Artificial Intelligence in proliferating business growth, a special session on the growth of online grocery in the region brought an illustrious panel featuring John Noja, General Manager, Talabat Mart UAE; Mahmoud Bahaa, General Manager, Rabbit; Chase Lario, VP of Groceries, Careem; Halima Jumani, Founder and CEO, Kibsons International and Raed Hafez, CEO, El Grocer By Smiles.

While experts from the grocery industry of MENA discussed fast evolving customer preferences, warehouse automation, turning seamless across channels, food security and much more through the day, on the other hand the food service industry experts brought forward the idea of expansion, serving to a global audience, menu management, and marketing as a pillar of strength.

While everyone acknowledged the growing influence of tech across the spectrum, interestingly the ‘power of people’ emerged as the biggest talking point across both UAERG Food Service Forum and IMAGES RetailME Food Business Forum.

Explaining the concept of people power and community-building Amit Nayak, Vice Chairman of UAE Restaurants Group & Vice President of HAMA MEA, said, “Following the COVID-19 pandemic, the hospitality sector in the UAE has experienced a robust recovery, with a significant 22 percent increase in occupancy rates.


Related articles