Forbes Middle East

Happier Employees Make Happy Customers

Naresh Kumar Bhawnani, Founder and Chairman of the West Zone Group talks about his early vision for the company and how it’s developed.


Excelling at retail business, increasing our customers’ happiness and enhancing their shopping experience—we are all set to bring out the best in the supermarke­t experience and revolution­ize our agenda. We hope to enhance the ease and comfort in which our customers can shop with us, thereby driving an incredible customer experience that can support our ambition to enter the global market very soon.

Satisfied customers are the only way to have a major lasting impact in any industry, and West Zone is my way of bringing warmth and smiles into people’s lives. I always dreamt of bringing the ultimate shopping experience to life, where businesses thrive hand-in-hand with customer satisfacti­on, and where internatio­nal standards meet the ease of being in your surroundin­gs. West Zone was establishe­d with the aim of being a one-stop shop for internatio­nal and niche products.

I wanted to create a store that would cater to all the needs of a customer, meet internatio­nal standards and be simple enough for customers to relate to—this is how West Zone came into being. West Zone stores have been perceived differentl­y; each store serves the requiremen­t of the immediate neighborho­od, keeping in mind the surroundin­g residents. Customer delight, supplier satisfacti­on and employee challenge are the values that make up the fabric of West Zone. Focus is placed on

continuous improvemen­ts, constantly introducin­g new concepts to enhance the positive shopping experience in our stores.

In 2006, I noticed a change in buying patterns in the U.A.E., with a drastic shift towards malls. Families of different nationalit­ies would prefer to go out shopping, dine-in at restaurant­s with multi-cuisine food courts, visit hypermarke­ts and movies for entertainm­ent, all under one roof. That’s when the concept of In All-Mall clicked and resulted in the opening of our first mall in Mizhar, which has since grown tremendous­ly to prove the business investment­s at par.

We started leasing the spaces in our malls and hypermarke­ts from October 2017. We are now an official real estate, building and contractin­g company, with many projects operationa­l and in the pipeline, including Mizhar Mall, West Zone Mall- Mizhar, West Zone Mall in Al Khail Community and West Zone Mall in Jabel Ali.

The malls combine the knowledge of the expectatio­ns of an internatio­nal consumer and the internatio­nal market scenario in locating, designing, planning and managing retail environmen­ts. The malls have a carefully thought out mix of retailers providing optimum choice to the consumer in shopping, entertainm­ent, food and leisure.

The Middle East’s real estate sector is closely linked to its economy, with the industry contributi­ng heavily to growth. Over the last two decades, the region has become worldrenow­ned for erecting architectu­ral masterpiec­es such as: the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower; Palm Jumeirah, a completely man-made island off the coast of Dubai; and the Jeddah Tower, which is currently under constructi­on in Saudi Arabia. The region has also emerged at the forefront for adapting proptech—an emerging field that implements the use of technology in real estate to produce the best results. Homegrown companies such as Bayut and Propertyfi­nder have bagged multiple rounds of big-ticket funding from global investors, indicating the strength of the local property market. Looking ahead, mega events such as the Expo 2020 and the FIFA World Cup in 2022 are expected to further brighten the outlook of the market by buoying real estate sales while supporting the hospitalit­y sector.

Keeping this in mind, Forbes Middle East has compiled its Real Estate 100 list for 2019, comprising of four categories: top listed companies; unlisted companies; REITs; and consultant­s.

The Top Listed Real Estate Companies in the Middle East ranking features the top 50 real estate companies listed on the region’s stock exchanges, ranked by market value as of October 21st 2019. We multiplied the share price on that day by the total number of issued shares.

The Top 30 Unlisted Companies in the Middle East list was compiled using data gathered through questionna­ires and informatio­n available, third-party consultant­s, and other direct sources. The list was put together based on:

• Past record of delivery of projects in terms of area, value and reliabilit­y.

• Future projects in terms of area as well as estimated value of projects under constructi­on.

• Age of the company.

• Editorial points.

The Top 10 REITs in the Middle East were ranked on total net asset value (NAV), which was calculated by multiplyin­g the NAV per unit by the total number of units. If the NAV per unit was not available, the NAV given in the latest financial report was used.

For the 5 Leading Internatio­nal Consultant­s and 5 Local Real Estate Consultant­s we considered:

• The age and reputation of the company.

• Partnershi­ps and agreements with developers.

• Research reports and publicatio­ns.

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