Global leaders converge for sixth retail leaders circle MENA Summit



13 February 2020, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA):The sixth edition of the Retail Leaders Circle (RLC) MENA Summit, the prestigious international organisation that unites powerful industry leaders, innovators and decision-makers who share global insights and best practice, has been hosted for the first time ever in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA).

The first day of the two day summit launched with an inspiring keynote from His Excellency Dr. Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qasabi, Minister of Commerce and Investment, who called upon the global, regional and local sector leaders to collaborate and drive the industry forward. Opening the event with a welcome address was Panos Linardos, Founder and Chairman of Retail Leaders Circle and Executive Director of New York Institute of Management, and Nisreen Shocair, Co–Chair of RLC MENA and Group CEO Middle East of Yoox Net-A-Porter. 

The prestigious summit, which was previously held in Dubai, will see more than 50 speakers take the stage, as inspiring thought leaders came together in this innovative and dynamic framework to introduce bold new ways to shape the future of the retail industry. The first presentation was delivered by Chris Baker, Senior VP, and Head of Retail North America, Visa who highlighted industry innovations, e-commerce and the AI revolution. He also discussed pioneering omni-channel strategies aimed at delivering improved customer experience. Other key session highlights included insights from Anita Balchandani, Partner, Apparel Fashion & Luxury UK and Colin Henry, Senior Adviser, Apparel Fashion & Luxury UK from McKinsey & Company who launched The State of Fashion 2020 report, followed by a dynamic e-commerce outlook highlighting what’s next for the industry which was led by H.E Ahmed Al-Hakbani, Governor, Saudi Customs; Ziad Al Yousef, Managing Director, Saudi Payments; Edward Sabbagh, Managing Director – MENA, Farfetch; and Majed M. Al Tahan, Founder & CEO, AYM Commerce.

Also discussed on the opening morning of the summit was The State of MENA Retail by Cyrille Fabre, Partner, Bain & Company; Retail as a Job Creation Engine with Ibrahim Al-Suwail, Deputy Governor, SAGIA, Faisal Alshaya, General Manager, KSA Alshaya Group, and Faraz Khalid, CEO, noon. 

The afternoon session included discussion on Leadership in the Age of Disruption, with speakers including Patrick Chalhoub, CEO Chalhoub Group, and Ahmad AR. BinDawood, CEO, Danube &BinDawood, BinDawood Holding. As part of her commitment to serving the vision of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Arab Fashion Council, Her Highness Princess Noura Al Saud, Advisor, Fashion Sector, Ministry of Culture, took a deep dive into Saudi Arabia’s fashion and design landscape during her engaging session. The final session looked at the future and what’s next for the industry, led by Omar Almohammady, Group CEO, Fawaz Alhokair Group and Nilesh Ved, Chairman & CEO, Apparel Group.

More than 400 VIPs, partners, media and delegates, attended the inaugural event in Riyadh. The summit offers an unparalleled networking opportunity for the retail community to engage with business leaders and public figures and fosters strategic collaborations through the unique open format. The latest innovations in the retail industry were also showcased at the Innovation Zone, which featured short presentations from participating companies, offering them a platform to highlight their latest innovations that aim to shape the future of the industry. Additionally, the Summit hosted closed-door interactive roundtables to deep dive into key challenges facing retailers and discuss solutions.

“Rapid growth development, unique retail opportunities combined with significant economic reforms are transforming the retail sector in Saudi Arabia, making it one of the most exciting and dynamic markets in the world,” said Panos Linardos, Chairman of Retail Leaders Circle. “Bringing the global industry leaders together for the first time in Riyadh has highlighted the huge, untapped growth potential of the Kingdom. Digitalization and disruptive business models are constantly changing our fast-paced world, and the key for retailers and brands is to keep pace with these changes. The summit is showcasing the opportunities that exist in the rapidly changing retail landscape in Saudi Arabia and the vast requirements that are needed to meet the needs of the consumer in the future.”

Technology has changed the retail landscape presenting new opportunities for retailers to take their business to a wider audience through e-commerce. However, those technological advancements also entail challenges for the brick and mortar retailers. Sessions tackled those challenges with “Re-imagining the Shopping Center of the Future” and “Rethinking Physical Retail to Survive and Thrive”.  One session focused on the evolving dynamics between retailers and landlords, as retailers rethink their portfolios and modify their use of stores in the future. Another session discussed how physical retailers can adopt agile strategies that will deliver growth, exceed customer expectations and tap into new consumers in the process.

As experience becomes more important for consumers, retailers need to remain relevant and offer consistent interactions across all touchpoints. 

The second day of the summit will take a deeper look at consumer behaviour and explore how retailers can meet their customers’ expectations. In addition, key sessions will discuss technological transformations, diversity and inclusion in the retail industry. 

Joining the 2020 Summit as headline partners is the Saudi Telecom Company (STC), the retail conglomerate, Fawaz Alhokair Group, the world's leader in digital payments, Visa, along with the multinational technology corporation, Microsoft. Gold Partners include Facebook, Granada Center and Kinan, while Silver Partners include BinDawood Holding, Red Sea Mall, Sahat and Axis Communications. In addition, key consultancies including, PwC, Mckinsey & Company, have committed to partnering with the event as knowledge partners to share their expertise to advance the retail sector.

The Retail Leaders Circle MENA Summit 2020 has welcomed more than 50 globally recognised speakers, as well as experts and policy makers, to discuss and examine the changing regional retail landscape, best practices to catalyse growth action through deep dive thought leadership and strategic moves.


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