Private Labels – The Game Changer

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Shamim Sainulabdeen, Director - Private Label at LuLu Group
Shamim Sainulabdeen, Director - Private Label at LuLu Group

Providing a unique perspective on the food industry and offering valuable insights about the private label sector’s scope in the Middle East

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Published: Mon 20 Feb 2023, 10:00 AM

Last updated: Mon 20 Feb 2023, 10:03 AM

Private label products are increasingly becoming popular in the Middle East, with more retailers looking to leverage their benefits. Ahead of Gulfood 2023, we spoke with Shamim Sainulabdeen, Director of Private Label at Lulu Group, to learn more about this trend. As an industry expert, Shamim shared his insights on the latest food trends, the challenges of food security, and the benefits of private label products. The interview delves into the challenges and opportunities of the private label industry in the future, and how it can benefit both retailers and consumers in the Middle East. This interview provides a unique perspective on the food industry and offers valuable insights to readers interested in learning about the private label sector’s scope in the Middle East.

How do you approach product development for private label brands?

Our approach to product development starts with understanding consumer needs and trends in the market. We conduct extensive research to identify gaps in the market and then work closely with our suppliers to develop products that meet those needs. We also place a strong emphasis on quality and value for our private label products.

How do you ensure that your private label products are competitive with national brands?

We strive to offer private label products that are at par with or better than national brands in terms of quality, while also offering a better value to our customers. We work closely with our suppliers to ensure that we’re using high-quality ingredients and materials, and we also invest in marketing and advertising to build brand awareness and trust with our customers.

What are the latest trends in consumer FMCG in the Middle East, and how can private label products leverage these trends?

The latest trend in consumer FMCG in the Middle East is a shift towards healthier, more sustainable, and affordable products. Private label products can leverage this trend by offering a range of products that cater to specific consumer preferences at an affordable price point. Private label products can also provide a unique value proposition for retailers, helping them differentiate themselves in a competitive market, attract new customers, and build brand loyalty.

How do you manage supplier relationships for private label products?

Building strong relationships with our suppliers is critical to the success of our private label programme. We work closely with our suppliers to ensure that they understand our quality standards and product requirements. We also negotiate pricing and contract terms to ensure that we’re getting the best value for our products.

How do you ensure that your private label products are meeting customer needs and expectations?

We gather feedback from our customers through various channels, including customer surveys, social media, and in-store feedback. Being a leading retailer, we have access to large data of the region so as to track how our products are performing in the market.

What do you see as the future of private label products in the retail industry?

I believe that private label products will continue to grow in popularity as consumers become more value-conscious and seek out high-quality products at affordable prices. Retailers will need to continue investing in product development, marketing, and supplier relationships to stay competitive in this space.

How do you stay up to date with the latest industry trends?

I attend industry conferences and trade shows, read trade publications, and follow industry leaders on social media to stay on top of the latest trends and innovations in the private label space. And in addition to that, I make sure my team members are up to date on the latest trends of the market.

How do you ensure that your private label products are ethically sourced and produced?

We have strict supplier standards in place to ensure that our products are ethically sourced and produced. We require all our suppliers to adhere to our code of conduct, which includes standards for fair labor practices, responsible sourcing, and sustainable production.

Can you tell us about a successful private label product launch that you have overseen?

We recently launched a private label organic edible oil premium product line which is a huge hit in the market. The products are high-quality and certified organic, and the packaging features eye-catching design and messaging that resonates with our health-conscious customers. And another is the pet food range one of the most challenging categories for Private Label business that has been very successful.

How do you balance the need for innovation with the need for consistency in your private label product offerings?

We strike a balance by maintaining a core line of products that our customers know and love, while also introducing new and innovative products on a regular basis. This approach allows us to continue to meet customer needs and preferences while also driving growth and differentiation in the market.

How do you leverage customer data to inform your private label strategy?

We use customer data to identify trends and preferences, which we then use to inform our product development and marketing strategies. This allows us to stay ahead of the curve and deliver products that our customers want and need.

How do you ensure the quality and safety of private label products?

We work closely with our suppliers to establish strict quality and safety standards, and we conduct regular audits to ensure compliance. We also conduct testing to ensure that our products meet regulatory requirements and consumer expectations.

What do you see as the biggest challenges facing the private label industry in the MENA region?

One of the biggest challenges is the need to continually innovate and differentiate our private label products in an increasingly competitive market. Another challenge is ensuring that our products meet the diverse needs and preferences of our customers across different regions and cultures.

How do you measure the success of your private label programme?

We measure success through a variety of metrics, including sales growth, customer feedback, and supplier performance. We also track key performance indicators such as product margin, sell-through rate, and market share to evaluate the overall performance of our private label programme.

How do you manage the brand identity of your private label products?

We have a clear brand identity for our private label products that is consistent across all product categories. We use consistent branding, packaging, and messaging to ensure that our products are easily recognisable and distinguishable from national brands.

What advice would you give to someone looking to enter the private label industry?

I would advise them to focus on building strong relationships with suppliers and to invest in product development and marketing to build brand awareness and loyalty. It’s also important to stay up to date with the latest industry trends and innovations and to always put the needs and preferences of your customers first.

What is Gulfood’s role in helping UAE Private Label businesses reach out?

Gulfood plays a role in helping private label businesses reach out by providing a platform for them to find ideal manufacturers to produce best quality products at best price, from all over the world.

With Gulfood coming up soon, what is the best way for manufacturers from around the world to reach out to your team?

We will have a stand at Gulfood, and our entire team will be there. To meet with us, manufacturers can schedule a meeting with one of our category heads, or they can simply send an email to We are always happy to connect with new partners and look forward to hearing from anyone who is interested in working with us.

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