Co-founder and Group Managing Director of the Jacky’s Group of Companies
Jacky Panjabi (pictured above, left, with COO Ashish Panjabi, right) joined his father’s business at the age of 17 when he moved from New Delhi to Singapore. Subsequently he moved to Hong Kong in 1969 where he set up the first Jacky’s office in 1970 with his elder brother, Ishwardas Panjabi. Jacky has since then established offices in Dubai, China, Singapore, Kenya, Tanzania, Pakistan and Uganda.
Jacky’s completed 35 years of its global operations in 2005. From humble beginnings to its current status as one of the leading international traders in electronics and general merchandise, the company has indeed come a long way. A factor that has contributed to its success is its ability to adapt itself to the needs of the times.
Panjabi, whose group has outlets in eight countries, expects the electronics retail sector to do very well in 2008. The Jacky’s Group of Companies that opened its first retail showroom in a souk in Deira in 1988, now has nine outlets across Dubai. The co-founder and Group Managing Director of the Jacky’s Group of Companies took time off from the job he loves best to discuss his company’s expansion plans and how competition is good for the retail sector and consumers.
What is your outlook for the electronics and retail sector here in 2008?
It is very positive. We have been in Dubai for the last 20 years and have witnessed a sea change. The clear vision of the Rulers has fuelled growth. Also, with many new malls opening up and Dubai expanding, there will be an increase in demand. People in the UAE just love to shop and there was a time when they used to go to Europe to shop. I was one of them too. But now everything is available here with most top brands coming in, and it can only get better.
How was 2007 for the company in terms of growth?
It has been a good year for us. Despite the entry of European brands to the market we experienced 20 per cent growth.
Do you see Sharaf DG’s recent tie up with Abu Dhabi Duty Free and their aggressive marketing strategy as a threat?
Yes it is a threat. But, that said, it really does not bother me too much as, over the years, despite the competition worldwide our group has grown steadily. Also, the emergence of new retailers is a welcome addition as it shows that the UAE retail sector has matured. Earlier, most electronics retailers were traders who treated retail as a side business, but today, retail requires a lot of organised selling skills and investment if it is to be done right. We have had to make a lot of changes at Jacky’s to emerge as an “organised retailer” and have enjoyed competing alongside our rivals. And competition also means that the consumer has a greater choice.
What are your future plans for Jacky’s?
We do not commit ourselves to five-year plans and then do nothing. We have plans to expand our business slowly but surely. We started in 1970 in Hong Kong and now we have a direct presence in several countries such as Singapore, China, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Pakistan apart from Hong Kong and the UAE. In 1988 Jacky’s Electronics opened its first retail showroom in Deira, since then we have grown to nine outlets across Dubai. Now we plan to increase the number of outlets in Dubai.
What is your strategy in terms of new locations?
Our strategy has always been to open outlets in prime locations. We have been trying to open in Abu Dhabi for the last three years but did not do it as we could not find a good location. However, in January we will be opening an outlet in Souk Al Bahar that is close to Dubai Mall and two outlets in Dubai Mall by the end of 2008. Finding a location is difficult because there are so many new brands here now that one can’t get space.
How has consumer spending been for 2007?
Consumer spending has gone up in the retail electronics market due to digital products. The shelf life of digital products is three to six months at the most as new models are always coming in and people want to buy the latest models. And the good news is that unlike earlier, when it used to take years for a new product to come to the UAE, Dubai is one of the top 10 markets now for a new product to be launched.
What are the plans for DSF?
We have a lot of promotions planned for DSF because it is not just the price and quality that matters. Promotion is equally important. So we will have a large presence at the DSF as, according to media reports, consumer spending is projected to surge 10 per cent and the number of visitors is also expected to swell five to 10 per cent from 3.5 million to almost four million.
Achievements of 2007?
In June 2007, Jacky’s was recognised as the Best Service Performance Outlet in the electronics category by the Dubai Service Excellence Scheme instituted by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Jacky’s is the only electronics company to be awarded ‘Superbrand’ status thrice in a row by the UAE Superbrand Council.
What challenges do you see for your company in 2008 and how will you tackle them?
The market has really opened up and competition is definitely a challenge. But we can handle that as we have our own customer base that loves to shop with us. Our logo “My kind of place” reflects this fact and it comes from the heart. And with the steady growth that we have been experiencing and with our experience, I anticipate a good year ahead for us in 2008.
Any mergers and acquisitions planned?
Well, we are a family owned business. My brother and I started the business and now the younger generation is also involved so at the moment no mergers or acquisitions are planned.
Is there anything you wish the Government would do to aid the electronics and retail sector?
The Government is already trying to boost the tourism industry here and that helps us because tourists shop. In fact tourists from Russia, Europe and Africa shop here a lot.
Jacky’s sees 20% growth amid strong competition