Taste 'home' in 11 of your neighbourhoods
Group of Pakistan Supermarkets stocks fresh, nostalgic ingredients and products for the expatriate community
It was in the year 1987 when Haji Muhammad Yaseen opened his first grocery store in the UAE. At the time, it was not like the grocery stores of today - modernised, well-decorated and equipped with electronic sale systems - but a fairly simple one with all the basic necessities like fresh fruits and vegetables, pulses, flour, etc.
"The supermarket boom started in the early 90s. You could see supermarkets popping up at every corner of major cities. The sudden boom of supermarkets was taking away business from local grocery stores due to their bulk-buying capabilities. Furthermore, ethnic-centric supermarkets also started growing, bringing in specific products from different countries," said the CEO of Group of Pakistan Supermarkets.
These supermarkets mainly targeted nationals of the countries they were importing from, but there were none specifically for the Pakistani community.
"It was very difficult to find products, especially the fruits and vegetables that Pakistanis living in the UAE grew up eating back home. That is why I decided to open up a supermarket that focused on bringing products from all over Pakistan. I want our community to benefit from the availability of items that reminded them of the homeland," he added.
Yaseen's first supermarket was named after his beloved country.
"The name 'Pakistan' itself has such an impact on our customers, and they feel, in some way, connected to their distant homeland while shopping here," he said.
As of now, the mart imports fresh fruits, vegetables and foodstuff from almost all over Pakistan, starting from Karachi all the way up to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
"Our mangoes have a celebrity status amongst the crowd here for their freshness and mouthwatering taste," said Yaseen.
Yaseen also has his own export company based in Pakistan with branches in Karachi, Multan, Sialkot, Lahore, Islamabad and Peshawar, which eases the process of sourcing the finest and freshest products available.
"The main attractions of our stores are our fresh fruits and vegetables. They are imported by air rather than by sea, which in turn has a drastic impact on the freshness and genuine aroma of the product. We make sure that our customers even get the brands of biscuits, chocolates, pickles, jams, etc. that they used to enjoy during their time in Pakistan," he said.
Yaseen also imports traditional Pakistani items like parranda, clay handi, matka, mehndi plates, ladies' bangles, fancy dholki, dufli, marble and clay grinders, and much more.
"Facilitating our customers with a wide variety of products makes them feel partly back at their hometown. I personally feel a sense of pride in catering to the Pakistani community here in the UAE. As an expat myself, I deeply understand the sense of belongingness a certain food or product brings me. It's not merely the incomparable quality of a product that drives a customer to spending their money on it, but more importantly, in the case of a community that settles abroad, it is the feeling that certain items, products and services bring," he said.
Yaseen works to the best of his ability to give customers a sense of belonging by creating an environment that reminds them that they are still close to Pakistan, despite being thousand miles apart.
"My heart fills with extreme joy when I see families looking at our shelves and talking amongst themselves about how the last time they used a particular product was when they were in Lahore or Karachi or Peshawar, and they have now come across it here because of us," he added.
His sons, Gulraiz and Jhanzeb, have joined in the business, and are now working hard in line with the vision and values that Group of Pakistan Supermarkets is built on.
"We have all embedded the aim of strengthening the Pakistani community in ourselves, and we make sure that we strive to the best of our ability in achieving this goal. We have received a tremendous amount of support and motivation from the Pakistani community. They always encourage us to push forward and meet new challenges," he said.
To date, Group of Pakistan Supermarkets has nine stores set across the UAE, with a 10th branch opening soon in Al Barsha 1, Dubai, in time for Ramadan.
"We will always work towards bringing Pakistan to our brothers and sisters here in the UAE. Watan se door, watan ki khushboo," he concluded.
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