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Mon 7 Apr 2008 04:00 AM

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The thrilling rush for triumph

Some of the region's leading industry players have powered an exhilarating roller coaster of change recently.

Some of the Middle East's leading industry players have powered an exhilarating roller coaster of change in recent weeks. Two of the world's biggest FMCG companies have brought in industry veterans as decision makers at their Dubai offices.

Unilever North Africa and Middle East has named Sanjiv Mehta its new chairman, after 15 years of experience with the business, while Patrick Satamian has stepped up from the role of managing director for the GCC to vice president and area director for the Middle East and Africa for Kraft Foods Inc.

In Saudi Arabia, the merger of the supermarket chains Panda and Giant - believed to be the biggest ever in the Kingdom - has been tipped to result in SAR 10 million (US $2.6 million) of sales by 2010.

By 2010, the company will employ a 20,000-strong team, 50% of which could be Saudi nationals, and its confidence cannot be ignored after predicting the number of customers will reach more than 100 million in the same year, an increase of 30 million from the current figure.

Saudi Arabia's biggest grocery retailer has targeted the Western Region for its growth ambitions. Aadham Junaidallah, CIO of Othaim Markets told Retail News the company plans to open stores in Jeddah and Medina by 2010.

The UAE's Emke Group will ramp up its Lulu hypermarket business by moving into a new arena by building five shopping malls in Oman. The retailer is also pursuing opportunities in India, Egypt and Syria, and will open hypermarkets in Qatar and Saudi Arabia's Al Khobar.

The group currently employs an 18,000-strong team of 29 nationalities across 18 countries, and plans to open 12 new hypermarkets by the end of next year to highlight its number one position in the region.

Khalid Humaid Bin Diban Al Falasi, general manager of Dubai's Union Coop, another local success story, has also spoken candidly to Retail News about fighting off rivals and price hikes in the future, after witnessing an impressive 28% growth in sales for its stores across the city last year.

The action-packed retail landscape has confirmed that despite global players' efforts to muscle in on the market and win shares from established, homegrown giants including Othaim, Panda and Lulu, the risk of losing ground has in fact intensified determination among the latter.

Similarly, Mehta and Satamian's appointments at Unilever and Kraft have accentuated the need for fast-growing firms to advance loyal and capable members of staff rather than run the risk of losing them to rivals.

As more money is pumped into groundbreaking formats in this region, which could produce shockwaves in the global retail market, Retail News Middle East continues to deliver breaking news to keep you informed.

Lynne Nolan is the editor of Retail News Middle East.

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