Mena gears up for unveiling of 100 most powerful icons in $1trillion retail industry

Dubai - The estimated retail e-commerce sales in the Middle East jumped to $55.40 billion in 2020.

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Mena region's e-commerce sales is estimated to touch $49 billion in 2021.
Mena region's e-commerce sales is estimated to touch $49 billion in 2021.

A Staff Reporter

Published: Wed 30 Jun 2021, 10:31 PM

Last updated: Wed 30 Jun 2021, 10:33 PM

Countdown for the announcement of RetailME ICONS, the Mena region’s first-ever retail power list, intensifies as Images RetailME announces the date for the mega event to be held on August 4.

This is the first of its kind event taking place in the region aiming to celebrate and acknowledge the most influential people in Mena retail and the pioneers that are leading digital transformation of the growing industry that generates an estimated $1.02 trillion (Dh3.74 trillion) in sales per year.

Organised by Images RetailME, a 16-year-old retail intelligence media brand in the Middle East with 45,000+ strong print readership and over 100,000 digital reach across the Mena region, the prestigious event will celebrate the success of an industry that serves 411 million people across 22 countries in the Mena region.

“This is the largest and only credible list of 100 most powerful retail icons from the Mena region. Our aim is to showcase to all the industry players and key stakeholders, who the most important retail leaders are,” said Justina Eitzinger, chief operating officer of Images RetailME.

“The industry has undergone a sea change – in quality, environment, efficiency, customer service and digital transformation. As the sector transforms and re-discovers itself, we take this opportunity to list the most powerful retailers in order to create an industry benchmark that would inspire other retailers to up their game and join the retail revolution being spearheaded by the listed icons as well as help stakeholders to develop a better perception on the biggest names in the region’s retail industry.”

With an estimated $202 per capita monthly spent, the total annual retail spending by Mena region’s 411 million people is estimated to cross $1 trillion per annum. As the retail industry in the Mena region transforms itself from physical to digital, those who are at the forefront of the innovation and digitisation process, will dominate the industry in the future and it is our responsibility as the voice of and for the sector to acknowledge their efforts and achievements as we move forward, she says.

“As Dubai Government has eased the Covid-19 related restrictions on participation, following the successful handling of the situation, I am glad to announce that the event will be held as per the guidance provided by the government with all health and safety measures with attendees that are 100 percent vaccinated,” she added.

The estimated retail e-commerce sales in the Middle East jumped to $55.40 billion (Dh203.31 billion) in 2020, compared to $22.20 billion (Dh81.7 billion) in 2015. Unfortunately, e-commerce sale represents only 2-3 per cent of the total retail sales in the Mena region, according to a report published by Go-Gulf.

Ecommerce usage overall sits at around 48 per cent of the population, which is relatively low when compared to more mature markets in China, the US and Europe. However, at $817, spending per shopper is quite high, reflecting the increased disposable income that individuals in this region enjoy. E-commerce growth is expected to jump higher in the coming months and years.

Laila Mohammed Suhail, CEO, Strategic Alliance and Partnership, DTCM, said: “Every crisis begets opportunity and it has been very reassuring to see the retailers from MENA using this crisis to accelerate their digital growth, diversify their business models and think outside-the-box and push limits like never seen before. I’m glad that RetailME has taken the initiative to put together this comprehensive list of the top 100 retailers as now would be a great time to acknowledge and appreciate their contributions to the industry and wider economy. It has been very exciting putting this list together, debating and discussing with the other jury members on the various classifications, which retailer falls under which category, and just discussing their inventive approaches towards navigating the pandemic in general.”

E-commerce growth occurred as a result of the high internet usage by the Middle East populace. Middle East countries like Iran and Egypt have high internet users with 56,700,000 and 48,211,493 users, respectively. There is also a record with Bahrain in 2017, where 98 per cent of their population used the internet, sweeping past France and the USA. Middle East countries experienced an annual e-commerce growth of 23 percent from 2018 to 2021.

Mohammad Alawi, Partner, CEO of REDS Company KSA, said: “As a keen observer of the region’s retail industry, I was delighted to be presented with the opportunity of being in the RetailME ICONS jury. The team collated a lot of data on the retail leaders’ achievements, innovations, and legacy on the basis of which I, along with my co-jurors, were tasked to select the top 100.”

The coronavirus outbreak contributed to the growth of the e-commerce sector in the Middle East, as over 40 per cent of respondents of a survey said, they started shopping online more than they did before the outbreak. In Mena, the estimated e-commerce sales in 2021 is expected to touch $49 billion. E-commerce in UAE has a total retail sales percentage of 4.2 per cent. —

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