The Business Year

Patrick Chalhoub, Group President of Chalhoub Group

SAUDI ARABIA - Tourism

Patrick Chalhoub

Group President, Chalhoub Group

Bio

In 1979, Patrick became involved in his father’s vision to build a bridge between East and West and be the ambassador for luxury lifestyle in the Middle East. In 1990, he created a regional distribution platform with Fendi, L’Oréal, Dior Parfums and Puig. From 2000 he developed the retail network of the Group to 600+ stores. He continues to expand the distribution, retail business, marketing activities and sustainability strategy, and successfully led the movement towards becoming a hybrid retailer. He is the director of Christofle and Bernardaud, a board member of the UN Global Compact, a founding member of the Rotary and the Capital Club, a council member in UAE’s Circular Economy, recently established the local chapter of Endeavor and actively involved in the French Business Council. He was awarded the medal of Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Mérite and the Chevalier de l’Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur since January 2018. He holds 2 Bachelor’s degrees, one in Economics and Finance and the other in Political Science.

“This is the time to be even more present and be a part of the Kingdom’s growth journey, and for this reason, we built a retail academy in Jeddah 10 years ago and now in Riyadh.”

Patrick Chalhoub, Group President of Chalhoub Group, talks to TBY about activities in Saudi Arabia, Vision 2030, and strategies for the short term.

What have been your milestones in the Kingdom for the past few years?

Patrick Chalhoub: We have been present in the Kingdom for over 65 years in different ways and embarked on all the various steps of development with Saudi Arabia’s transformation. Drastic changes have taken place in Saudi Arabia, and we decided to focus on our operations here since we have a stronger connection to the Kingdom. This is the time to be even more present and be a part of the Kingdom’s growth journey, and for this reason, we built a retail academy in Jeddah 10 years ago and now in Riyadh. The aim of the retail academy is to upscale our resources and provide them with the techniques, expertise, and knowledge that are required. We are working on obtaining certifications from the Ministry of Education to provide vocational training and acquire diplomas, and we are proud to announce that we have been officially accredited by the Ministry of Education. In 2021 and 2022, we were ranked number one in Saudi and fourth in Asia by Great Place To Work.

What was the impact of Vision 2030 on the Chalhoub Group’s business operations?

Patrick Chalhoub: We have expanded our logistics facilities in Riyadh with the cooperation of the General Authority for Civil Aviation. These facilities are only temporary, as we have signed a letter of intent with the government to have a bonded warehouse and create a center that will support e-commerce business for Saudi Arabia and beyond. We have also been launching cooperation initiatives and working alongside the government to develop rules and regulations that will attract companies such as ours to move their operations to e-commerce platforms. We have also established new offices in Riyadh with 4,000sqm of office space and upgraded all our stores and retail activity within the Kingdom. We have invested heavily in refurbishing and expanding some of our stores so we can offer an enhanced customer experience.

How do you bring awareness of all your achievements in the Kingdom?

Patrick Chalhoub: Our Group has been present for over 65 years, though the name Chalhoub was not at the forefront. We had allowed our partners and brands to take center stage; however, it is now time for our Group to solidify its position within the Kingdom, we have decided to establish Chalhoub Saudi Arabia. To raise awareness about our presence and achievements, we launched the campaign “We are Chalhoub” with the motto “My bold future.” This campaign is about our employees, having them express themselves, and showing them that there is a future within our community. Our goal is to be known for our contributions to Vision 2030 not only among the public but also by the government and local talent in Saudi Arabia.

How has Chalhoub Group been affected by the growth of tourism in the Kingdom?

Patrick Chalhoub: Vision 2030 is clear: Saudi Arabia offers magnificent sights and history, and with the right expertise and training, it has immense potential and room for growth. Retail accounts for 14% of the national GDP, and with the development of tourism, there is more potential for retail to grow and add value to the sector. Because of this, it is important to enable local talent to achieve Vision 2030’s target for tourism. Our responsibility is to support Vision 2030, and to do so, we need to shift the consumer mentality to retain purchases within Saudi Arabia by expanding on brands and collections, enhancing the shopping experience, and having customers engage further and connect to the retail experience in the Kingdom. We are also expanding our operations and maximizing our current partnerships and creating new ones.

What was the incentive behind Chalhoub Group’s acquisition of UK’s Threads Styling?

Patrick Chalhoub: Five years ago, our Group had minimal digital presence, and we realized it was time to catch up. Our transformation has since gone from 0% e-commerce activity to 9%, which we consider a sizable achievement. We already had a partnership with FarFetch, though we wanted a bigger and stronger engagement digitally. We chose Threads Styling since our aim is to appeal to the younger generation, and the platform’s customer base on average is 25 years old. The beauty of Threads is it is all about personal shopping and personal e-commerce. Threads Styling has a 35% presence in the Middle East but lacks a logistics presence. We found this an opportunity to encourage and accelerate its presence in the region.

What are the next strategic steps for Chalhoub Group in the Kingdom?

Patrick Chalhoub: Vision 2030’s objectives are unprecedented, and I am optimistic about the energy of the youth. Our focus is to achieve short-term milestones rather than aiming big and wasting time and resources on long-term ones. Regarding our short-time objectives, we aim to work with what we already excel at, and we continue working on inspiring, exhilarating, and delighting our customers in Saudi Arabia. We also want to attract new team members and retain our existing ones by providing them with an exceptional environment to work in. We would also like to increase our engagement with local partners to develop the infrastructure and elements that will help our industry perform better. We could help shape this market to become the best version of itself and double our activity in the Kingdom.

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