J&K special report: Excited about plans for Jammu & Kashmir agri-product manufacturers

Naresh Bhawnani, Chairman, WestZone Group
Image Credit: Supplied

Please elaborate on West Zone’s plans to tie up with agri-product manufacturers from the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir, how is this introducing a new dynamic to produce being retailed at WestZone stores?

We are very excited about our plans to tie up with agri-product manufacturers from the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir and are in advanced discussions with several manufacturers based there to explore the opportunities to develop a vibrant high-quality range of products for our private label in a vast number of categories. We happily welcome small-scale industries to communicate directly with us to bring the rich heritage of the region into the UAE, thereby eliminating the indirect channels to provide maximum benefits to the small scale industrialists from the region.

WestZone has the largest number of supermarkets among retail chains in the UAE. What is the secret of the brand’s success?

For WestZone, our main key component in business has always been Customer satisfaction. We believe that it should always be as easy as: You name it, we have it! Another key component for WestZone is to be strategically located all over the UAE, hence we have our branches dotted all over, giving customers easy accessibility with most of our branches are 24 hours.

How has business played out during the pandemic, what have been your takeaways during this challenging phase?

The pandemic has no doubt been very tough on everyone and posed many challenges in order to be safe and keep everyone safe. However, our key priority was to ensure that customers were served well with their needs during the tough phase. We ensured that stocks were sufficient enough to meet the demands for essentials during that phase so as to ensure there were no depleted stocks meanwhile also ensuring prices were affordable keeping all constraints and limitations in mind. We also supported various communities through the Indian and Philippines consulates to provide essentials for people who were displaced and victimised due to the tough unexpected circumstances.

There is obviously immense scope for expansion for the supermarket chain, please share WestZone’s plans for the next five years while spotlighting what you have in store for 2021.

Thankfully, due to the positive and never-say-die attitude inherited from my mentor, my father, WestZone has only been growing from day one and the first branch, notwithstanding the fact that the dynamics of business has completely changed in 2020. With the help of efficient contingency planning, we have managed to open more new stores this year and intend to continue with the upward spurt in growth in the coming years and spread our visibility all over the UAE.

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