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Post-Pandemic Retailers are Reinventing I

f 2020 was about survival, 2021 is about strategic reinvention as retailers redefine ‘normal’. From rethinking sales channels to reimagining floor space, refocusing sales strategy to rebooting loyalty, transformation has become a top priority for retailers. Despite disruption and unpredictability, several regional businesses have successfully created a retail ‘renaissance’ by overhauling processes, reevaluating channels and, importantly, by pivoting quickly. Examples to consider: Abu Dhabi-based retail conglomerate LIWA Trading Enterprises expanded its home business by adding new and relevant categories. While Saudi Arabiabased fashion and lifestyle retailer Fawaz A. Alhokair & Co. accelerated digital transformation to create an omnichannel presence in a matter of weeks.

Omnichannel isn’t a choice The pandemic was a “wake-up call” for Fawaz A. Alhokair & Co., making it clear that omnichannel was not a matter of choice. Within weeks, the retailer launched some of its brands on e-commerce marketplaces, while creating 14 mono-brand online sites within months. From 0.5%, online now accounts for 6.5% of the retailer’s overall sales, quite sizeable for a SAR6-billion business.


Already a leader in the offline space in Saudi Arabia, the company’s strategy is to become an “exciting” lifestyle company offering an “unmatched” omnichannel experience. As a step in this direction, Fawaz A. Alhokair & Co. and mall operator Arabian Centres Company have acquired a majority stake (51%) in VogaCloset, a UK-based online fashion marketplace. Strategically timed, 17 of Fawaz A. Alhokair & Co.’s brands will be available on VogaCloset by Eid Al Fitr in May. “Our goal is to offer customers a flexible, convenient, entertaining and omnichannel shopping experience,” said Marwan Moukarzel, CEO, Fawaz A. Alhokair & Co. “That’s why, we decided to invest in a profitable online platform like VogaCloset, with a deep understanding of regional and global fashion trends. Almost 52% of VogaCloset’s sales already happen in Saudi Arabia. This will strengthen our future omnichannel strategy. We will gradually increase the range of brands on VogaCloset, adding 24 within a month of launch and several more before the year-end. Over the next three years, we have the option to completely acquire VogaCloset.”

Refocusing buying strategy With completely different market dynamics at play, most retailers were “stress-tested” and had to refocus their buying strategy aligned with customer needs. Amid a rapid decline in supply from five million

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