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Saudi Gazette, Saturday, January 21, 2017







Digital tech & online shopping

reshaping UAE retail industry


ONSUMER sentiment and spending

levels continue to rise despite the ef-

fect of falling oil prices on the re-

gional economy, according to a recent survey

conducted by Virtual Info Systems (VIS),

organizers of the first Smart Stores Expo

(SSE) happening at ADNEC, Abu Dhabi from

Jan. 23-25.

The survey conducted over a period of six

months is a step towards better understanding

of the shopping habits, and factors driving the

purchase decisions of UAE consumers and its

implications on retailers.

The survey finds that 76.4% still prefer in-

store shopping, whereas only 23.6% prefer to

shop online, indicating that brick-and-mortar

will continue to be retail mainstay despite

the surge in e-commerce platforms and other

technology offerings.

Much of the respondents stated that they

preferred to shop in-store owing to the general

shopping experience and the variety of options

available. Convenience, Customer service, and

location were the other key deciding factors.

The survey also revealed that 43.6% make

online buys at least once a month with 38.2%

participants spending an average of 6-8 hours

per day online. While 50% respondents to

this survey agreed that their online purchase

decisions are heavily influenced by deals and


Furthermore, the study suggested that a

growing number of brick-and-mortar stores are

beginning to incorporate new retail technolo-

gies to improve in-store experiences with

21.4% customers using cashless payment apps,

20.4% using barcode readers while shopping

in stores.

Self-service kiosks, shopping apps, and

self-service check out facilities are also

equally popular with 16.5% of consumers.

Speaking about the gradual shift in

consumer spending patterns, Jayaraman Nair,

chairman – VIS Exhibitions and Confer-

ences, said, “The UAE retail industry is ever-

evolving, and technological innovations in

particular has played a huge role in this. Usage

of online platforms and shopping apps have

increased considerably due to its convenience

and around-the-clock shopping access.

Retailers will now have to find innovative

strategies to develop brand loyalty in addition

to promotions and discounts. It is extremely

important to find new ways to constantly

engage with consumers and their varying

shopping patterns.”

The survey showed that the most fre-

quently purchased products by online shoppers

were electronics, apparels, and accessories.

Interestingly, items like groceries, food and

art supplies were less popular amongst online


According to the survey, the main incen-

tive for consumers to shop online was the

convenient payment options, access to deals

and discounts, and shopping in the comfort of

their homes.

A vast majority of shoppers felt that “in-

store shopping will grow due to technologi-

cal advances.” With more number of retail-

ers using technology to improve customer

experience, drive revenue, and streamline the

entire shopping experience, physical shopping

experience will continue to evolve and be the

preferred mode of shopping by consumers.

Smart Stores Expo 2017 will provide

the exhibitors an ideal platform to launch,

showcase & present their latest innovations,

services and products; along with meeting

Zayed Future Energy Prize winners named


HEIKH Mohammed Bin Zayed Al

Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi

and Deputy Supreme Commander of

the UAE Armed Forces, presented the Zayed

Future Energy Prize to nine winners during

the 2017 awards ceremony in Abu Dhabi


Nine pioneers in renewable energy and

sustainability across five categories became

the latest awardees to join the prize’s growing

international community of winners. The

2017 recipients of the prize span a wide range

of industry expertise, from breakthrough pho-

tovoltaic manufacturing to government policy

advisory. The Zayed Future Energy Prize has

so far recognized 57 individuals and organisa-

tions since it was founded in 2008.

Li Junfeng, director general of China’s

National Center of Climate Strategy Re-

search, won the Lifetime Achievement award

for his unwavering commitment to the adop-

tion of renewable energy in China. General

Electric (GE) won the Large Corporation

award for leadership in the wind and solar

energy markets. GE’s wind business alone has

commissioned 41.3 GW of total generating

capacity and installed more than 30,000 wind

turbines to date.

Sonnen, the German smart home and

commercial energy storage system manufac-

turer, was awarded the prize in the Small and

Medium Enterprise (SME) category for lead-

ership in providing battery storage technol-

ogy solutions. In the Non-Profit Organization

(NPO) category, UK-based Practical Action

was recognized for its work in providing

deprived communities with clean energy in

Africa, Asia and Latin America. Joining them

were the winners in the Global High Schools

category, five schools spanning five regions

of the globe.

The five winners in the Global High

Schools category are: Starehe Girls’ Center,

Kenya for the Africa region; Green School

Bali, Indonesia, for the Asia region; Bolivia’s

Unidad Educativa Sagrado Corazón 4 for the

Americas; Belvedere College in Ireland for

Europe; and Huonville High School, Tasma-

nia for the Oceania region.

Now in its ninth cycle, the Zayed Future

Energy Prize has positively impacted more

than 289 million people through its interna-

tional community of winners. This includes

providing over 25 million people in Africa

and Asia with access to modern, clean energy,

off-setting over 1 billion tons of carbon emis-

sions, and ensuring 17 million children of

school age can study at night using innovative

solar-powered utilities.

Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, former presi-

dent of the Republic of Iceland and Chair

of the Zayed Future Energy Prize Jury,

said: “Through the sustainable actions of its

winners, the Zayed Future Energy Prize is

a model example for how far the world has

come in the last nine years. It is extraordinary

that, through the impact of each winner and

the lives they continue to improve, we now

see a growing strength in being able to deliver

a sustainable future.”

Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, UAE Minister

of State, said: “The Zayed Future Energy

Prize continues to honor the legacy of sustain-

ability advocated by the UAE’s late founding

father Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

With each awards ceremony, the UAE leader-

ship accelerates the pursuit of innovation,

reinforces the significance of sustainability at

the top of the global agenda, and gives oppor-

tunities and far-reaching benefits to communi-

ties around the world.”

The prize will open again for submissions

and nominations for its landmark 10th year

later this month.

— SG

Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, and heads of state

with representatives of the nine winners of the 2017 Zayed Future Energy Prize at the awards

ceremony in Abu Dhabi, UAE. — Courtesy photo


Sri Lanka’s airline sell-off stalls

Sri Lanka has failed to attract bids from international airlines to privatize

its loss-making flag carrier, but will continue its efforts to salvage the

company, a minister said Friday. The government received nine offers

for Sri Lankan but none were from a major international airline operator,

State Enterprise Development Minister Kabir Hashim said. “We are

still evaluating the proposals, but we are keen to have an airline of

international repute that can also bring in traffic that will help our tourism

industry,” the minister told reporters in Colombo. Of the proposals

received, the government has shortlisted three, including one from TPG, a

San Francisco-based private equity firm. Hashim is heading a new three-

member ministerial panel to decide the future of Sri Lankan which has

debts and accumulated losses of over $2 billion. “The new committee was

appointed to explore other options,” the minister said. “We don’t know yet

what those options are, but we want to get a good international (airline)

partner very soon.” Official sources said the government was keen to

attract a big operator from the Middle East or Asia. Late last year, Sri

Lankan canceled the previous government’s order to lease four brand new

Airbus A350-900 long-haul aircraft after paying a penalty of $115 million

to aircraft leasing giant AerCap.



China chip firm to build $30b factory

China’s largest chip maker has announced it will invest $30 billion to build

a new semiconductor factory, as the world’s second largest economy

seeks to reduce its dependence on foreign technology. The state-owned

Tsinghua Unigroup will open the facility in the city of Nanjing in eastern

Jiangsu province, where it will mainly produce chips used in consumer

electronics such as cellphones, cameras and computers, according to

a statement posted Thursday on the company’s official website. The

project “is of great significance to the independent innovation, large-

scale production, and marketization of China’s integrated circuit industry”,

the statement said. The announcement comes after attempts by the

company to take-over US chip makers Micron Technology and Sandisk

were curbed by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United

States (CFIUS) over national security concerns. Its ambitions to acquire

American technology thwarted, Tsinghua Unigroup has shifted its focus

to building plants in China, launching a $24 billion memory chip factory

in Wuhan city last month, according to online news site Sohu. China was

the largest market for semiconductors in the world in 2015. Its excessive

dependence on imported chips has raised concern in Beijing over the

country’s national security, according to a report by the US Department

of Commerce. The drive by China to expand its role in the market, long

dominated by US firms like Intel and Qualcomm, has raised concerns in




Synthomer sees 2016 profit

Chemicals maker Synthomer estimated 2016 profit ahead of market

expectations after stronger-than-expected trading in Europe and Asia

and the sterling’s weakness boosted fourth-quarter trading, pushing its

stock to a record high. The company, which supplies specialty emulsion

polymers used in construction, textiles, paper and latex gloves, said it

now expected 2016 pretax profit of about 120 million pounds, which at

least two analysts said beat their estimates. Canaccord Genuity raised

its full-year earnings expectations by about 8 percent for 2016 and

about 3 percent for 2017. The brokerage also hiked its target price

to 425 pence from 410 pence. Synthomer, which counts the euro as

its largest trading currency, said currency translation was expected to

boost 2016 results by about 12 million pounds. The sterling fell to a

multi-year low after Britons voted to leave the European Union on June

23. Synthomer’s core business also reported better-than-expected

trading over the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, 2016.

— Reuters


Ahold Delhaize turnover soars

Newly-formed Dutch-Belgian retail giant Ahold Delhaize posted a 30.1

percent jump in turnover for 2016, boosted by strong growth in its

US-based stores and online business in The Netherlands. Posting

its first yearly trading update since the mega-merger in July of Dutch

firm Ahold and former Belgian rival Delhaize, the company said it had

clocked up 49.6 billion ($52.8 billion) in sales. It did not give net profit.

Taking the merger into account, pro-forma net sales stood at 62.3

billion euros, up 2.4 percent from 60.8 billion euros, the group said,

ahead of full-year results expected on March 1. “Delhaize America

delivered strong comparable sales growth and both Food Lion and

Hannaford grew volumes significantly,” Ahold Delhaize said. This

included a new initiative called “Easy, Fresh and Affordable” in 142

stores in the Charlotte, North Carolina market. The Netherlands too “had

an outstanding performance... driven by an assortment of innovations”.

This included strong sales by Ahold Delhaize’s online businesses bol.

com and

, as more consumers turn to online grocery shopping

from its dominant Albert Heijn supermarket network. Ahold Delhaize

said it was on track in terms of operating margins, which it expected to

be “slightly ahead” of 2015.


industry peers, building brand awareness and

meeting prospective clients. The exhibitors

and visitors will be privy to the latest trends in

the retail industry, both regionally and global.

Smart Stores Expo is a must-attend event

for retailers, marketers, visual merchandisers,

architects, shop fitters who find to find new

ideas or suppliers, to benchmark their existing

practices or to learn what lies ahead from lead-

ing trendsetters.

— SG