Ernest J Hosking, Group CEO, Red Tag talks about the retailer’s operation and expansion plans in Oman. An OER report.
Are you satisfied with Red Tag’s launch and current progress in the Oman market?
We are very confident that our complete store offering is not only unique but exceeds everybody’s expectations with its collections and store format. I must compliment the team here in Oman who spearheaded the operations and carried out an aggressive launch campaign. The first store opening in Al Khuwair was probably the best in this region.
What are your plans for financial year 2014?
We believe we can have up to 130 stores within the GCC region before we reach saturation point. The stores offer value-for-money, good quality fashion merchandise for the whole family. I would essentially say that we are looking at having a minimum of 12 stores in pipeline in the Oman market alone. In places where space is short, there are plans to launch smaller format stores, with kids, adult fashion and home/lifestyle concepts packaged into standalone outlets.
As consumers grow cost conscious and continue to hunt for bargains, please comment as to how Red Tag fits in the picture?
Even though the company is moving in the right direction, we cannot afford to rest on our laurels. We are on a constant lookout for operational efficiencies, business improvement projects, which include re-engineering the supply chain and an overhaul of the IT system.
Do you see Red Tag promoting home based brands in its stores?
At the moment we don’t have any firm plans but we have considered looking at some local designers within the international fashion trends. We are not really looking at traditional fashion. We want to ensure that our collection is well focused so that what we have is the best to offer towards our prospective customers. Being a value business, we need to keep our operating costs under control. With the growth of our business, we can take advantage of increased volumes with our suppliers.
What are your future plans and how many stores are you targeting for the future?
We can have so many more stores in Oman, but it’s all about finding the right location. There’s so much opportunity in this segment; there’s a lot for us to accomplish before we worry about saturation. One of our recent store openings is slated to happen in Nizwa.
Do you some way feel you are laying the foundation or setting a new trend of value buying in the retail business with Red Tag?
It would be very arrogant to say something like that. I would like to reiterate the fact that we have contributed to the people of Oman something different and we can assure that people can keep expecting value added products every time they shop with us.
Would you look at CSR activities in the future?
I would like to draw focus on our responsibility in building our own staff. We give a lot of importance in employing nationals and training the locals as much as we can. This in itself is a huge CSR activity for us whereby we give utmost importance to Omanis and their growth and future prospects within the organisation.