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Sun 13 Jun 2010 11:38 AM

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New Al Futtaim CEO eyes 'new era of positive change'

New chief Robert Willett says company has pedigree for 'significant growth' in region.

New Al Futtaim CEO eyes 'new era of positive change'
RETAIL GIANT: Among Al Futtaim Groups many brands operating in the region is Marks and Spencer. (Getty Images)

One of the UAE's highest profile companies, Al-Futtaim Group, said on Sunday that its new CEO Robert Willett would lead its "march into a new era of positive change".

The UK business veteran will take the reins at Al-Futtaim as group chief executive officer and aims to get "closer to customers" of the family-owned business which operates through 65 companies in various sectors and in 13 countries.

He said Al-Futtaim had "the pedigree, people and products" to grow significantly across the region.

"Most importantly it has a stable of brands that any simple shopkeeper like me would die for,” said Willett.

Omar A Al Futtaim, vice chairman, Al-Futtaim said: "He and I have shared several insights and strategies on the way forward and he has truly understood the company's overall values and footprint.

"I am confident he will bring considerable strategic experience to the Group and enable us become truly customer centric.”

To support his customer centricity focus, Willett said he has laid out several strategies in his quest to focus on nearly 20,000 direct and indirect Group staff in the GCC countries alone, plus Egypt, Syria, Morocco, Singapore, Malaysia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Western Europe.

"Our people are our ‘secret sauce’ we will go to great lengths to make sure everyone in the Group plays a greater part in the business,” said Willett.

“Keeping it simple is how we are going to do things,” said Willett. “I’m paranoid about maximising the customer experience so my guiding principle to grow the Al-Futtaim business across the landscape comes from this simple premise: Focus on the customer and make sure you do the right thing from the employees’ perspective."

Willett, who began his career with Marks & Spencer in the UK, has held group CEO and managing director positions in major companies across Europe, Asia and the US, including Best Buy International.

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