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by Stuart Wilson, Tuesday 25 May 2010

The ‘Middle East Retail Academy (MERA): 2010 Awards’ included eight categories for retail companies and two for distributors. Celebrating excellence in the Middle East IT and consumer electronics retail channel, the ‘MERA: 2010 Awards’ were held in conjunction with Digital Consumer Channel (DCC) Middle East & Africa (MEA) – the region’s premier retail channel event.

“There is still considerable diversity in the Middle East retail channel and the market landscape varies significantly from one country to another,” commented Farouk Hemraj, organiser of the ‘MERA: 2010 Awards’. “Winning a MERA Award demonstrates a retailer’s strength and also highlights its standing amongst the vendor community.”

In the months preceding the ‘MERA: 2010 Awards’ Gala Dinner, which took place on May 19th, members of a vendor jury nominated five retailers per award category. The five retailers with the most nominations made it through to the final where the eventual winner was decided by a live electronic vote.

“Making the final five for any award category is an achievement in itself,” added Hemraj. “It is important to understand that the vendor jury is made up of senior executives that work with the regional retail channel every day. Their nominations and final votes are based on deep inside knowledge of the regional market. We wish to congratulate all the retailer finalists and the eventual award winners.”

The ‘UAE Hypermarket / Big Box Retailer of the Year’ award was collected by Carrefour for the second year in succession. The fast-growing hypermarket chain was up against fellow finalists Emax, Lulu, Plug-Ins and Sharaf DG in this category.

CompuMe, Dubai Duty Free, Jacky’s, Jumbo and Virgin Megastore made it through to the final five for the ‘UAE Mall-based / Specialist Retailer of the Year’. In a close vote, Jumbo emerged victorious taking home the award.

Heading to Saudi Arabia next and it was Carrefour, Emax, Extra, Jarir and Panda battling it out for the Kingdom’s first award of the evening. For the second year in succession Jarir Bookstore was crowned ‘Saudi Arabia Hypermarket / Big Box Retailer of the Year’ underlining the retail giant’s continued success in the Kingdom’s IT and consumer electronics retail sector.

The ‘Saudi Arabia Mall-based / Specialist Retailer of the Year’ award was contested between Ahmed Abdul Wahed, Best E-City, Electro, Lingo and Obeikan Bookstore. The vendor jury were unable to separate two of the finalists, with the live electronic vote resulting in a tie between Best E-City and Electro.

Alghanim Electronics continued its dominance in the ‘Rest of Gulf Retailer of the Year’ category, picking up the award for the second year in a row. X-cite, Alghanim’s retail operation, has 14 outlets spread across Kuwait and has established itself as an innovative and fast-growing business. The other four finalists for this award were Carrefour Qatar, Emax Oman, Geant Bahrain and Sharaf DG Bahrain.

The five finalists for ‘Egypt Retailer of the Year’ were Carrefour, CompuMe, HyperOne, Radioshack and Virgin Megastore. This was the first year that Egypt had its own standalone award and CompuMe took home the coveted prize.

The last regional award was for ‘Levant Retailer of the Year’ and was contested between Abed Tahan & Sons, Carrefour, Khoury Home, Smart Buy and Virgin Megastore Lebanon. Khoury Home, one of Lebanon’s leading retailers of household products, came out on top, securing the most support during the live electronic vote.

The ‘Retailer Marketing Initiative of the Year’ award was based on application packs outlining promotion details and evidence of success. The entries were shortlisted down to five final nominees – Alghanim, Carrefour, Extra, Plug-Ins and Sharaf DG – with details of each marketing initiative sent to members of the vendor jury to consider. The eventual winner was Sharaf DG for its Brand Promise promotion. Put simply, if a product is not available in-store, a Sharaf DG customer can make a request and the product is sourced within a set time. If it takes longer, the customer receives the product for free.

The full list of retailer winners is below:

UAE Hypermarket / Big Box Retailer of the Year – Carrefour

UAE Mall-based / Specialist Retailer of the Year – Jumbo

Saudi Arabia Hypermarket / Big Box Retailer of the Year – Jarir Bookstore

Saudi Arabia Mall-based / Specialist Retailer of the Year – Best E-City & Electro [TIED]

Rest of Gulf Retailer of the Year – Alghanim (X-cite)

Egypt Retailer of the Year – CompuMe

Levant Retailer of the Year – Khoury Home Lebanon

Retailer Marketing Initiative of the Year - Sharaf DG

While vendors voted for their preferred retailers, it was the retailers that cast live votes to select their preferred distributors. The first distributor category for ‘Volume Retail Distributor of the Year’ was contested between ABM, Al-Futtaim Electronics, Asbis, FDC and Redington. For the second year in succession Redington came out on top, cementing its growing reputation in the region’s retail channel.

In the second distribution category, ITE Distribution was named ‘Specialist Retail Distributor of the Year’, beating fellow finalists Ashley, Emitac, GCT and Grand Stores to win the award.

In total, more than 500 delegates involved in the Middle East retail channel participated in the ‘MERA: 2010 Awards’ and DCC MEA. The ‘MERA: 2011 Awards’ will again take place in the UAE in conjunction with DCC MEA. Companies interested in sponsorship opportunities for the ‘MERA: 2011 Awards, should contact at the earliest opportunity.

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