The Faculty of Business Administration & Economics at Haigazian University organized a round table conference titled “The Retail Industry Trends: Opportunities and Challenges”, which took place on Friday the 23rd of March 2018, in the University’s auditorium. The two-hour conference, delivered by experts from the retail sector of the Lebanese economy, covered the areas of Franchising, Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG), and the Automotive sector.
The conference opened with the welcoming words of the Dean of the Faculty of Business Administration & Economics, Dr. Fadi Asrawi, who considered the retail industry as very vital to the Lebanese economy. Asrawi put significant importance on the rapid changes in technology and consumer habits, thus, making the retail industry highly competitive and subject to constant innovation and structural changes.
In his address, University President Rev. Dr. Paul Haidostian pointed out two important concepts in tackling “small units” which are “kindness” and “vision”. “I like to see those in the retail industry and the relationship between the two: little acts of kindness and the sharp vision to see the greater in the lesser,” Haidostian noted.
First to speak was the Vice Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture of Beirut and Mount Lebanon, the CEO of Fahed Group (a group of companies in import and distribution, supermarkets, retail and real estate development), Dr. Nabil Fahed, who presented the case of FMCG in Lebanon. Fahed shared with the audience the trend of the FMCG retail industry, which he considered is in the state of stagnation, mainly due to decrease in internal demand and number of tourists, in addition to the Lebanese market structure, which is fragmented with few large chains, and others operating through independent family businesses.
The President of the Lebanese Franchise Association (LFA), Mr. Yahya Kassaa presented a talk entitled “Franchising: A Strategy for Business Development”, whereby he introduced the franchising industry in Lebanon and highlighted successful retail practices within the same industry. Kassaa considered the Lebanese and franchising as a “perfect fit”, due to the Lebanese entrepreneurial spirit; a nation at the crossroads of East and West that understands and mix the best of both civilizations. Kassaa considered franchising a successful industry in Lebanon, as it constitutes 4.4% of the GDP of the country, employing 100K people, with a 66% of profitability rate.
To introduce the case of the Automotive Industry in Lebanon, two delegates were present from Rassamni Younis Motor Company (RYMCO). The Finance Control Division Director, Ms. Nada Ayoub, briefed about the inventory management at the company, the securization of receivables, in addition to the banking retail offers and subsidies. For his part, the Marketing Manager at the company, Mr. Jade Ayoub, gave a quick overview of the Lebanese automotive market, and emphasized on the new trends in marketing techniques and approaches, such as social media platforms, blogging and the use of influencers and brand ambassadors, to affect people’s opinions and choices.
Last to speak was the Chairman of the Board of the Teleferique, Mr. Joe Boulos who shared his experience on how to adapt the Lebanese retail to a fast-changing market. Boulos presented the five key elements to successful retail, covering from the establishment of the store concept, the choice of its location, the selection of the products range, the pricing techniques, to the customer service.
All sessions were moderated by Faculty Member Dr. Najoie Nasr. An interactive Q&A followed every guest speaker, allowing the audience to share their thoughts and questions regarding the topic.
The symposium concluded with a reception in the Mugar Hall.
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