Halal Industry 

Q&A: World experiencing ’paradigm shift’ in consumer demand as more Muslims spend on halal products: Al Maya Group director

| 08 November, 2018 | Interview


This Q&A with Kamal Vachani, Group Director for UAE's Al Maya Group, is brought to you by Al Maya Group as part of its sponsorship of Thomson Reuters' State of the Global Islamic Economy 2018/19 report. The digital copy of that report can be downloaded here.

Q: Muslim consumer spending has reached $2 trillion across various sectors. How do you think this will impact the growth outlook and projections for the Islamic economy and Halal food in particular?

Kamal Vachani: An ever increasing Muslim consumer spending complements the Islamic economy landscape as it provides an unprecedented growth opportunity for brands, businesses and institutions. Islamic finance apart, sectors such as halal food and beverages, Muslim-friendly travel, modest fashion and halal media are contributing to the growth of Islamic economy by fostering innovation, entrepreneurship and responsible investment across the spectrum. A good example to note is the Islamic economy generating 8.3 percent of Dubai’s GDP, registering a growth rate of 14 percent.

The world is experiencing a paradigm shift in consumer demand, with a significantly higher number of Muslims spending on halal products and services year after year. Halal food undoubtedly is one of the biggest sectors of the Islamic economy and it can only get bigger as the population and consumer spending increases. Muslims are increasingly expecting more businesses to cater to their needs and millennials are asserting their values online.

We at Al Maya Supermarkets have been in the region for the past three decades and always strive to comply with the halal landscape and government regulation, including, but not limited to, boosting the Islamic economy in various sectors . We are  opening new retail outlets in new developed districts to provide  consumers  with essential  halal foods products .

Q: Al Maya Group’s mission is to be a leading domestic brand with a strong international reach. Which markets are you looking to expand into in the next two-to-three years? Are you considering any markets outside the MENA region?

Al Maya Group is one of the leading business conglomerates based in Dubai. It was established in 1982.  Our group’s core business consists of food and non-food products, fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) distribution, supermarkets and lifestyle retail.  We are one of the leading supermarket chains in the UAE and have a sizeable share of the UAE retail market. We have over 55 supermarkets in the UAE and in the GCC.  

In terms of expansion plans, at present we are concentrating to expand in the MENA region only. We are planning to open more supermarkets in the next two-to-three years in the UAE and the GCC.

We have invested substantially towards infrastructure development by having state-of-the art warehousing facilities in all our locations and ensuring timely delivery of goods to customers across the region. We have also invested substantially towards information technology by having the latest mobile sales force automation (mSFA) system for our sales team.

Over the years Al Maya Group has been recognized as a preferred and trusted business partner by its associates. Our vision is to offer the best fast-moving consumer goods  products to consumers.

Q: Al Maya Group aims to achieve and maintain a ‘best-in-class’ supply chain. How have you been able to achieve supply chain excellence in regards to the halal products that you offer?

Al Maya group has invested substantially in its supply chain operation. We have state-of-the art ISO 22000:2005 and HACCP certified distribution facilities. Recently we have implemented a warehouse management system to further improve efficiency and services to our customers. In addition, we are building a world class supply chain and distribution facilities at Technopark, having close proximity to Al Maqtoum Airport and Jebel Ali Port. Our modern systems and competent supply chain team ensures service excellence for halal products at our side.

Q: Tell us more about the recent UAE trade mission to Vietnam that Al Maya was part of. Bilateral trade between both countries is valued at $9 billion. What are the opportunities that you foresee boosting Islamic Economy trade between both countries, and how Al Maya can play a role in this?

Recently a large delegation of Al Maya group, comprising of  the senior management team from the UAE and other GCC countries, visited Vietnam to further explore business opportunities. The delegation was welcomed by senior government officials of Vietnam, and assured of all the assistance to improve the business relationship. Al Maya group is currently importing jasmine rice and dairy products from the leading companies of Vietnam. Also during the visit, we got an opportunity to meet senior officials of leading companies originating from Vietnam. We see a great opportunity to further increase the business.

Kamal Vachani is Group Director of Al Maya Group, a leading business conglomerate in the UAE, with diversified operations ranging from retails stores (over 50 supermarkets / hypermarkets), fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) distribution in the GCC, and franchisee operations (Borders bookstores, Paperchase).

Mr. Vachani is also the Regional Director of the Electronics and Computer Software Export Promotion Council (ESC), for the UAE and the Middle East. ESC is one of India’s most dynamic premier trade promotion organizations sponsored by the government of India, and mandated to promote India’s electronics and information technology exports to global markets. He also held the post of Regional Representative of the Toys Association of India — which was under the umbrella of ESC — for over three years.

Previously, Mr. Vachani was the Regional Representative of the Federation of Indian Exports Organizations (FIEO) for the UAE and the Middle East. Mr. Vachani is also Chairman (for the Dubai Chapter) of the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO).