Established with a single children’s store in Bahrain in 1973, the Landmark Group has grown exponentially, taking in everything from food, footwear, fashion, fitness and supermarkets through to much-loved brands such as max, Centrepoint, home box, fitness first and viva. Moving its business headquarters to Dubai in 1990, followed by its move to Jafza in 1995, the company has stayed relevant to the needs of its loyal customers for 47 years, with an intimate understanding of the region’s needs and tastes. We spoke to Renuka Jagtiani, Chairwoman and CEO, Landmark Group, to find out more about the company’s time in Jafza, its approach to sustainability and its response to COVID-19.
The Zone: Tell us about your decision to move to Jafza?
Renuka Jagtiani: We first moved to Jafza in 1995 with a 140,000ft2 Distribution Centre (DC) in Jafza North. At present, we are operating out of six DCs in Jafza North and South spread over 3.5 million square feet. This includes our fully automated Mega DC which went live last year.
Our strong base in Jafza is one of the primary reasons for our growth in the MENA and Levant regions, as our Jafza DCs function as a central distribution hub for these markets. With Mega DC, we have gone one step further in servicing these markets at high speed with sorted and store-ready merchandise. The best indicator of our growth is the volume of TEU’s handled out of Jebel Ali Port and through our Jafza DCs, which went up from 19,000 TEUs in 1995 to 74,000 TEUs in 2019. Jafza’s customer-focused operating environment is a one-stop solution for businesses like us as it offers efficient and streamlined processes, integrating ports, customs and trade all into a single platform. We are very grateful to Jafza for our long- standing partnership and for supporting all of our supply chain requirements in this region for over three decades.
The Zone: How is the Mega DC adding value for customers?
Renuka Jagtiani: The biggest value to our customers is ensuring speed to market. The Mega DC comes with the benefit of combining centralized inventory with high speed automated processing of goods. In terms of automation, it is the largest shuttle installation under-one-roof not only in the region but probably in the world, with 1,300+ robotic multi shuttles.
It allows us to adapt our model and gives us the opportunity of extending the hub for 3PL services – not only for other retailers but also all other industries, including electronics, and FMCG products. So, Omega Logistics was built to cater to the growing need for integrated logistics in the region and beyond.
The Zone: Can you tell us about the Landmark Group’s sustainability philosophy?
Renuka Jagtiani: The Mega DC is an EHS Green Building certified facility and incorporates the single largest rooftop solar system in the region. We have rolled out several initiatives across the organisation in the last two years. These include our first-ever Sustainability Report, outlining our key priorities as a Group. We are continuously working on Energy Management Systems that allow us to work at every level to reduce our carbon footprint. Furthermore, last year alone the Group saved half-a-million kgs of plastic and four million kgs of cardboard and paper.
The Zone: How has the current pandemic affected the Landmark Group?
Renuka Jagtiani: This pandemic is unlike anything we have ever seen before and has impacted us across the business. With stores closed for more than two months and opening gradually with new guidelines, we continue to navigate through many dynamic situations. Our focus has been to protect our business and ensure it is stable and sustainable, now and in the future. We had to make some very rapid changes to our operational processes and systems with employee health and advanced communication as priority. We have been closely monitoring the situation, always staying connected to support our business and our people by taking proactive measures and building operational efficiencies across our offices, stores and warehouses.
These measures include supplies for employees and their families should anyone get quarantined; multi-vitamin shots for warehouse employees; setting up special backup office arrangements, additional to our headquarters; and special accommodation for warehouse, office and store employees.
We are also doing our best to stand by our communities in need during this time. The Middle East has been home to us for several decades, and we have pooled our resources from the Group and the Jagtiani Foundation to work on the ground supporting several humanitarian initiatives across the UAE, the GCC and India.