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About Sharjah: A cooperative for the people

Lily B. Libo-on / 24 November 2012

From a humble and small supermarket at Maysaloun, the Sharjah Cooperative Society (SCS) has grown by leaps and bounds boasting of 20 branches across the emirate. It also has an ambitious plan to set up the biggest trading and marketing complex in the UAE.

Its pioneering 20 members, chaired by Aisha Al Noman of the Sharjah Women’s Union, may not have dreamt that the SCS would grow this big in 35 years following some lean years after its establishment in 1977.

Today, the SCS has gone down in history as the first and the oldest cooperative in the UAE, and the only one in the Middle East recognised by the International Cooperative Alliance in Switzerland according to its general manager, Majid Salem Saif Al Junaid, 

With 18,000 members as local shareholders, receiving 10 per cent share dividends and 15 per cent dividends in return on purchases, 15 of the cooperative’s branches have increased by 4.5 per cent or Dh2.3 billion in the first half of this year as compared to Dh2.2 billion in the same year last year.  The sale average of these societies has increased to Dh12.7 million as compared to Dh12.1 million in the first half of last year.  A more dramatic development is the 11 per cent increase in sales during Eid Al Fitr, according to the statistics released by Purchases Department. 

This increase has been attributed to the high turnout of shoppers on Eid and the fall in the prices of many commodities in all branches of the society.

Though the society is operating with the objective of selling consumer foods and ration products at affordable prices, it also aims at providing the best services and prices by providing all basic commodities.

During Ramadan it subsidised 50 basic commodities at a staggering Dh6 million initiative.

Al Junaid says that the initiative is anchored by the desire of the society to sell consumer products and foodstuffs at acceptable prices that can be afforded by everyone during Ramadan.  “We have promo campaigns and special discounts all year round, especially during Ramadan and Eid.”  A bigger vision of the society is to reach out to more residents in the emirate, not just the society shareholders and ordinary members, who are receiving a six per cent dividend on its purchases. Charity, humanitarian and relief activities are aplenty.

Among them are the latest medical equipment for osteoporosis given to Al Qassimi Hospital, financial assistance to such organisations as Al Thiqah Club for the disabled, Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services, Association of the Koran and the municipalities. SCS has always been in the forefront in the distribution of large quantities of rice and flour subsidised by His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah through the rental of stores and selling outlets.

SCS turned 35 this year, and it celebrated it by giving out 35 units each of television sets, lap tops, Samsung phones and five cars at five weekly draws at Sweihat, Dhaid, Khorfakkan, Helwan and Qarain.

The society has always been renovating its branches, the latest of which is the branch in Al Qarain costing Dh29 million comprising of a new two-storey building on a 7,200sqm, with a hypermarket, shops, restaurants, and branches of local Islamic banks.

Studies are now being carried out to establish Al Rahmaniyah Mall on a 37,000sqm area in addition to parks in Rahmaniya expected to be the biggest trading and marketing complex when it is built. “We also have proposals to construct a new branch in Al Madam area to serve the people there,” Al Junaid says.

Al Junaid says that studies are being conducted to make further expansions other than the current expansion in Helwan branch to make it a symbol of development and to turn it into a modern shopping centre.

For SCS to undertake all its visions and mission in Sharjah, it has employed e-archiving, set up a state-of-the-art facilities and through its IT Department worked on an advanced and integrated information centre to provide techno services for all its branches on highest international standards, and signed an agreement with Sharjah Islamic Bank to boost the services to shareholders and members.

An SIB-issued card is now being provided to all SCS members for the easy transferring of the annual profit to the card account and dividend on purchase during the process of payment in the branches of the Society.

Operating with a 1,400 strong staff, the Sharjah Cooperative Society is an example of a multi-racial company whose employees from 30 nationalities have worked together in an atmosphere of unity and cooperation under a perfect leadership and direction.

lily@khaleejtimes.com

 
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