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(From left) Shahanas Basheer and Fathima Shamah, Directors at Western International Group
(From left) Shahanas Basheer and Fathima Shamah, Directors at Western International Group

Western International Group is all about women empowerment. Two women directors — Shahanas Basheer and Fathima Shamah — on what they bring to the brand's equation

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Published: Mon 26 Dec 2022, 11:13 AM

Tell us about the journey of the group and how it has pivoted itself to support women empowerment through its various groups.

A family-run business with two generations of leadership, Western International Group made the decision to include women in leadership in the second generation. We are in the seminal stage in empowering and including as many talented women in leadership and workforce. Our mission is to promote economic and individual empowerment by removing barriers and promoting their role in decision-making during a crisis. We believe that everyone is unique, individual, and strong, and we are looking forward to increasing the representation of dedicated women in the workforce in the coming years.

The modern woman is a multi-tasker, juggling many roles at once. How have you incorporated all those aspects into your offerings?

There is no doubt that women are talented multi-taskers. The way they do things with grace is beyond admirable. We believe that women are capable of accomplishing anything and everything, let alone juggling their personal and professional lives. The family role and the workplace have many parallels. While juggling multiple roles, we have developed resilience that makes us stronger in our role and position.

What is the role of digital technology and innovation in the business operations of the group and what steps have been taken to remain in step with the changing trends?

Over the years, the market and marketing styles have changed a lot. Through changing trends, it has become vast, smarter, and incredibly unpredictable. Every market is different and dynamic. The impact of technology and modernization on our lives and society as a whole has been nothing short of phenomenal. Shaping yourself and your business for the future is something that will push you forward through each step of the process.

Technology has been instrumental in scaling up our operations. We collaborated and teamed up with top-tier technology groups to take things to the next level and keep up with changing market trends. Being pioneers in adapting modern technology, we were able to rely on data to improve our systems. We are committed to driving operational excellence in everything we do. We have a dedicated and strong tech team that works in tandem with the business to tackle bottlenecks and streamline operations. This team maintains highly reliable digital products and systems to streamline operations.

Would you care to elaborate on some of the latest ventures and investments that the group has undertaken?

WIG has established its presence across major verticals and is now adding multiple categories under its wings. We are evolving and growing our business and taking our expertise and appreciation to new markets and new places. We have opened a discount superstore called Mark & Save, which is aimed at opening 200 outlets in the next three years. In the food retail sector, Teeffee has opened new outlets in major locations in various Emirates. We have a fashion e-commerce segment which is trendyme, a convenience discount retailer, Gala with products imported from Europe. Here are a few of the latest ventures and investments.

How has retail changed in the region with the advent of e-commerce and online stores and how have you adapted to changing consumer preferences?

As the saying goes, either you run the day or the day runs you. We are exposed to new trends, new opportunities, and new challenges every single day. And in this rapidly advancing world, we cannot rely on or stick to the same old routine to deal with the new advent of e-commerce and marketing. In the event of a change in the call or other external factors, we are always willing to devise different plans and implement them at the right time to maintain and raise the bar. Our research shows that the majority of our customers prefer having an in-store experience where they can touch and feel the products before purchasing. Likewise, we also have customers who would like to have access to things from the comfort of their homes. For this reason, we have made ourselves available to shoppers who prefer to shop online as well as offline. By offering both online and offline options, we meet the changing preferences of our customers!

What are the future plans of the group to expand its presence in the region?

Our group is establishing exciting new concepts in the e-commerce, food, fashion, and value retail industries. We have developed plans to expand our existing business and launch brand-new ventures across the MENA region, which includes Tunisia, Lebanon, and Morocco. We are equally looking forward to and thrilled to amplify our business across continents and reach countries such as Germany, the UK, and others. Nesto, currently Western International Group’s largest business segment, will be opening new stores across India and the UAE. Our upcoming discount superstore, Mark & Save, is projected to open 200 stores in the next 3 years. Additionally, another retail unit of ours, Gala, is in the process of expanding to 200 outlets across the UAE in the next two years. Gala is a discount convenience retailer that offers the cheapest prices on the market without compromising the quality and freshness of our products.

— ali@khaleejtimes.com

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