04 September 2015
Earlier this year, Nayomi took an important step in its strategic development plans when founder and chairman Kamal Jamjoom of the Group bearing his name opened the doors to its newest store design, the Nayomi Princess Palace, which is on average 350sq/m store concept that can be found in five locations across KSA - Mall of Arabia-Jeddah, Salaam Mall-Jeddah, Al Noor Mall-Madinah, Dhahran Mall-Dhahran and Nakheel Mall-Riyadh. Soon the first Princess Palace will open at Yas Mall in Abu Dhabi.
Kamal Jamjoum, who is also the CEO of Kamal Jamjoum Group and Stephen Holbrook, Brand Director at Nayomi spoke to Saudi Gazette in an exclusive interview. Established in 1987, the Kamal Osman Jamjoom Group started its business operations with one of the earliest The Body Shop franchises in Jeddah. Since then, the Group has grown to become a franchisee, franchisor and an independent brand organization. Today, the group has turnover in excess of AED1.2 billion with over 700 stores and employing more than 3,900 professionals, representing a global mix of 57 nationalities working across eight countries.
These figures are growing at a rapid pace as the group continues to explore new markets and expand its presence. When asked about the vision and mission statement of the group, Kamal Jamjoum said: "In the mid-to-late '80s, there was a move among companies in the US and Europe to develop their mission statements. Huge and complex documents were written to explain what the company stood for. It is important to have a mission statement, but it is equally crucial to put it across in simple words for employees to easily understand and grasp. That is what we have done at Kamal Osman Jamjoom (KOJ) Group.
Our mission statement is simple - build a successful retail business that improves the quality of life by creating meaningful jobs in our communities, challenging people to grow in an ethical and fair environment." "Along with our mission statement, we have a certain set of values the company stands for and believes in. For us, the most important thing is to take care of our people, offering them a friendly environment. It is obvious, people are keen to work in an environment that is safe, secure and ethical. That is why our values remain constant, even if, like any other company, our budget, business plans, marketing activities and product development change every year," he pointed out.
Jamjoum said before getting into any business you need to know that someone else is doing the same thing, probably even offering the same product. So you have got to develop a recipe for success. We started out in 1987 with a single store. Today we have a strong network of over 700 stores in the KOJ Group. "We started with a franchise brand, The Body Shop, in Saudi Arabia and began developing our own brands later in the '90s. We now have nine brands - Nayomi, Mikyajy, Nayomi Abaya, Nayomi Beauty Salon, Soiree, Mihyar, The Body Shop, Early Learning Centre and Neals Yard Remedies."
"Our endeavor with these brands - franchised and homegrown - has always been to create a proposition that clicks with our customers. It was not easy to develop everything from scratch - products, operations, store design as well as visual merchandising. But we thoroughly enjoyed the challenge. The excitement has always been palpable and there has been so much learning. And today, to see all the brands successful in their own way is a different feeling altogether," he recalled. He said today the group maintains the success of its mature brands, while optimally nurturing the new ones.
"It is like a big family where you offer a sense of direction and coaching to your older children, while taking good care of the needs of the younger ones. It is true we have developed different kinds of brands ranging from beauty to apparel and more. We have also maintained some amount of crossover. But we have not gone into something that is drastically new, such as food and beverage or leisure and entertainment."
As an organization, Jamjoum maintained that the group concentrates on its core competencies, acquiring the right knowledge first and venturing into something new only after acquiring the required knowhow. "But we always ensure innovation within our businesses, bearing in mind consumer tastes, market and fashion trends, fabrics and technological changes." Holbrook has been in the industry for 20 years and has worked with leading global brands such as Wonderbra, Gossard & Shock Absorber, Marks & Spencer and Victoria's Secret.
In January 2013, he joined KOJ and is now the brand director for Nayomi lingerie, Nayomi Abaya and Soiree brands within the group, as well as member of the KOJ Executive Board. Discussing the expansion, he said: "Nayomi was founded in the Kingdom in 1992 as a single lingerie store, and 22 years later has evolved into a distinctive, leading brand within the region. Since the brand was first launched by the visionary Mr. Kamal Osman Jamjoom in 1992, 49 Nayomi stores have opened across Riyadh and Jeddah, and more than 185 stores across the GCC region, making us the leading lingerie retailer in the Middle East."
He said with the new Palace, they are able to boast their own exclusive product ranges. Other show-stopping features of the stores include a dedicated bridal area, complete with seating and exclusive ranges, several beautiful and luxurious changing rooms, and an impressively large LCD screen completing the experience. No expense has been spared in the development of these stores, an example of which is the customer chandeliers, exclusive to Nayomi, being sourced straight from Europe. "This represents a significant investment and signifies our very optimistic and targeted growth as a brand." He said the lingerie market has grown exponentially over the last decade, with more consumers who are discerning and who know what they want.
"A whole generation of people has grown up in malls in the Middle East, as it is a very popular way to spend free time in countries such as KSA and UAE, so it is natural for shoppers to be very knowledgeable consumers. We have customers who are experts when it comes to our product offering," he noted. "We have also welcomed a few new competitors into the market in the last decade, as they have seen the growth of the Middle Eastern region over the last 10 years, and have entered the market with the experience and product offering they bring from their home countries. We welcome this and invite healthy competition, as it will always benefit the customer," he added.
Talking about domestic competition, he said Nayomi is a trusted brand and has become a part of the fabric of society. "We are the only lingerie brand that designs products with only the Middle Eastern customer in mind. This means that we deliver products that represent the needs of a lady from this part of the world, which forms part of this culture and way of life here in the Middle East. No other lingerie brand can offer this hands-on approach to product design." Moreover, he said "we constantly work to offer excellent quality products that represent excellent value for money. Our customer knows she can turn to Nayomi for the little luxuries in life as well as for her core basics that every woman needs."
However, the dynamics of the Arab market differ from the rest of the world. "In the Middle East the family unit is incredibly important. The focus is on women and her incredibly valuable role in our society as a mother, wife, daughter and sister. At Nayomi we celebrate these roles by making our customer feel like a princess every day. We believe in femininity and elegance, in making every lady feel amazing, because then she will look amazing," Holbrook explained.