FNP (Ferns N Petals): Blossoming in the Middle Eastern soil

Ferns N Petals, an Indian specialty retail brand which launched in the UAE in 2015, has come a long way since then. Currently, the brand is the largest online gifting company in the UAE both in terms of the width and depth of the options that it offers to its customers, along with the customers it has serviced so far. In an exclusive interview with Abha Garyali Peer, Vijay Ghadge, Business Head, dwells at length on the main factors that have led to the brand’s success in the Middle East and the reasons that people prefer it over many local players. Excerpts:Ferns N Petals (FNP) has established itself as a prominent player in the gifting and specialty retail sector in India. What was the rationale behind the expansion to the Middle East region?In the UAE we saw an opportunity with respect to per capita spend on gifting in general and flowers in particular. In addition, the country has such a huge immigrant population. We also found it comparatively easier to find relevant talent in the UAE.Since our launch in 2015, we have expanded our product range as well as our customer base. We currently are the largest online gifting company in the UAE both in terms of the width and depth of the options that we offer as well as customers was launched in 2015 and currently has both online and offline dominance in the UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. What has been the secret for success?There are many reasons why we have been so successful here. The premium quality of our products and the sheer variety that we offer is one of the main factors. Providing over 1,500 unique and high-quality products, and spanning diverse categories such as birthdays, anniversaries and annual celebrations, along with fresh plants, personalised gifts and bespoke combination gift sets, along with other countless options that we offer for every occasion. Our leadership team is also exceptionally strong, and they have prioritised offering exceptional customer service, forging strong local partnerships with other regional businesses, and implementing efficient procurement strategies.By curating innovative and adaptable advertising strategies, and maintaining a strong online presence, our marketing continues to be extremely effective. By being reliable and offering exceptional services and local expertise, our reputation remains glowing and positive, and many customers come to us through word-of-mouth recommendations.In addition, we are thrilled to be one of the first gifting specialists in the UAE to offer instant deliveries of flowers, chocolates, cakes, gifts and more across Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah in less than 60 minutes. This gives us a significant competitive advantage over other similar gifting businesses. Localising our platforms and services for the Middle Eastern market has also been key to our success. We have customised our online platforms, website, and mobile app to cater to the preferences and needs of customers in the Middle East, including offering bespoke language, currency, and payment options. We also maintain high levels of cultural sensitivity, and all of this serves to enhance the overall user experience. E-retailing has advanced at a breakneck speed. Please share your views and what the future has in store? Thanks to the world’s ever-evolving technological innovations and the widespread adoption of digital platforms, e-retailing continues to boom. The pandemic encouraged this shift towards a new and digitally-driven way of shopping, and data platform Euromonitor reports that e-commerce sales in the UAE grew from $2.6bn in 2019 to $4.8bn in 2021.MENA is the world leader in the Q-commerce market, and I think this will continue to be a top trend. Today’s customers want instant gratification, innovative delivery options as well as personalised and customised items. This is exactly what we offer at FNP.Mobile commerce, omni-channel integration, and data security and privacy for our customers will remain some of our top priorities over the next few years. Cross-border e-retailing is another important trend for us, as this will allow our customers to gift and deliver items to their families and loved ones overseas. <img src='\89c47587fe63b2d67afbe0f89cb5094d.png' class='content_image'>What do you offer to the Middle East consumers? What is in the bouquet of Providing over 1,500 unique and quality products, and spanning diverse categories such as birthdays, anniversaries and annual celebrations, along with fresh plants, personalised gifts and bespoke combination gift sets, we offer countless options for every occasion. With our new Q-commerce service, customers can feel safe and secure knowing that they can have the perfect gift delivered to their door, or the door of their recipient, in 60 minutes or less.  By offering quick delivery, quality products that consistently exceed expectations and excellent customer communication services, we continue to successfully maintain the trust of our audience, stand out from the competition and grow our customer base. What can you say about the average transaction value, growth and notable trends during special occasions like Mother’s day, Women’s Day, Valentine’s Day, etc.? These occasions are peak seasons for us, and we always experience significant growth around Valentines, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and other annual celebrations. Our revenue during these periods continues to rise with each passing year. We maximise these opportunities by offering specific customised catalogues for each event, including cakes, flowers and gifts and accessories that have been specifically curated for Christmas, Ramadan and other occasions. Many of these items can also be personalised with names or initials. This ensures that customers are always able to find perfect gifts for loved ones and that we always stock exactly what they are looking for. We are proud to offer the most special and unique gifting options in the region. In India, FNP is famous for its timely delivery, and delicious chocolates besides fresh flowers. Is it the same with Please detail your gourmet product range. Yes, we are thrilled to be one of the first gifting specialists in the UAE to offer instant deliveries of flowers, chocolate, cakes, gifts and more across the UAE in less than 60 minutes. This gives us a significant competitive advantage over other similar gifting businesses. Gourmet chocolates are another expanding area for us in the UAE. Market research showed us that UAE customers desired a greater choice of personalised and high-quality chocolate flavours, including more sugar-free options. Therefore, we decided to expand our portfolio into the gourmet food sector, to launch our first ever range of bespoke Belgian chocolates. Launched in June 2023, our new ‘Finest Belgian Chocolate’ collection spans an array of sumptuous milk, dark, ivory, truffle and sugar-free chocolates. Enhanced with sumptuous fillings and flavours, including coffee, salted caramel, Nutella hazelnut, pistachio, lotus and many more incredible options; the indulgent range makes the perfect gift for family, friends and loved ones. Our previous UAE chocolate ranges were all provided in partnership with local chocolatiers, but the new ‘Finest Belgian Chocolate’ collection is our first chocolate range to be made in house at FNP’s headquarters in Dubai. Our fresh flowers are also proving particularly popular. In fact, an incredible 50 percent of our total sales in the UAE derive from roses, lilies and hyacinths, and our homemade cakes, fresh plants and personalised accessories are also highly sought after.<img src='\4c94fa0df077c38c000e094d29109c09.png' class='content_image'>What can you say about personalisation and customisation in as the discerning audience wants everything to be personalised? Personalisation and customisation are crucial aspects of modern e-retailing, especially in a market like the UAE where discerning customers value unique and tailored experiences. As a successful gifting and specialty retail brand, we have priortised creating a robust personalisation and customisation strategy for our business.We offer customers the chance to design their own gifts or bundles, and customised gifts with names, messages or particular flavours. From a marketing perspective, we create personalised product recommendations, emails and social media campaigns. We always ensure that our website experience is user-centric and we dedicate great time to collecting customer feedback and taking it all on board. As mentioned above, we also offer occasion-specific customisation, such as birthdays, Valentine’s Day or Ramadan messages. What campaigns and marketing strategies have you incorporated for the brand’s success in the UAE markets?We have made sure that our marketing is localised to meet the needs and wants of the local market. We remain very active on social media, and we maintain high levels of engagement with our audience. Influencer partnerships, e-mail marketing, search engine optimization, pay-per-click, remarketing campaigns, collaborations, offline events and out-of-home advertising have all proved very effective for us. Our seasonal- and occasion-based campaigns have been successful at driving sales and attracting the attention of our audience. We create special offers for popular occasions in the UAE, including Eid, National Day, Valentine's Day, Ramadan and more.What are your views on “Indian brands in Middle Eastern soil”? Did the brand face any hurdles initially? How did you overcome it?Launching in the UAE was very different to launching in India, and we had a lot of things to think about. We had to consider the UAE’s cultural customs, its regulatory and legal frameworks and the language and communication techniques that resonated with the UAE’s audience. We also had new competition here and we had to build trust with our customers from the ground up.To overcome these challenges we invested in market research, localisation, forging partnerships and alliances and building strong relationships with our audience and partners.To maintain our position as gifting experts, we prioritised educating our customers about our brand, products, and value proposition through targeted marketing efforts. By remaining flexible and agile, and offering consistently high-quality products and exceptional service, we have successfully gained the trust and love of the UAE’s residents. By adapting our business model to the needs of the UAE and maintaining a strong digital presence, we continue to grow and thrive.Perfecting our logistics and supply chain was also essential. Distribution can often be a hurdle, especially in a region like the UAE that has diverse geography and infrastructure. By implementing efficient and reliable logistics and strong supply chain management, we successfully overcame our distribution challenges.We recognise that establishing a brand in a new market takes time and that it requires long-term commitment. Therefore, we are always thinking of new ways to entice and please our customers and improve our services.Did the pandemic 2020 dampen your spirit? How has the sales picked up post Covid in the UAE?The pandemic prompted us to think creatively and diversify our product range. To overcome social distancing, we offered contactless delivery and implemented strict safety measures. Digital marketing and customer support and communication were also crucial during this period.  We continue to offer strong online operations and competitive prices, and we always ensure that our supply chain operates seamlessly. I am pleased to say that we have recovered admirably since the pandemic. During 2022, we experienced double digit growth in the UAE.

Admiral expands its global footprint in the Middle East with new partners

UAE: Admiral has recently expanded its Global Footprint across Middle East, Africa, and Southeast Asia, by partnering with few of the strongest distributors in various countries.Admiral Appliances and Electronics FZE, a 100% subsidiary of Admiral Corporation of America based out of Dubai, UAE is a well-known American brand that operates across the Middle East, Africa, Turkey, and South Asia with an exhaustive and impressive range in categories like Air-Conditioners, LED TVs, Major Appliances, Built ins and Small Appliances.Admiral recently celebrated its success by hosting a Grand Event with its Regional Partners & UAE Retailers, Dealers, Online & Re – Export Partners and signed New Partnerships with few of the top distributors in the region. Admiral is one of the fastest growing American Appliances and Electronics brands in the region. It demonstrated over 150 consumer appliance products that are currently retailed across all the leading outlets like Extra, Sharaf DG, Amazon, Noon and many more.Admiral intends to enter one of the biggest markets in the world – India, by Q4’23. Admiral products will be available in the Indian market with one of the top online players.Vishal Saxena, Chief Executive Officer, Admiral Appliances and Electronics said, “We are excited to expand in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asian markets after spending considerable time studying and adapting to the specific needs of our customers. We are currently operating in 23 countries of MEA and South Asia and by end of 2023, we will operate in more than 30 countries of MEA and South Asia. We are aggressively expanding to serve our consumers. We see a gap in the market that can be filled by Admiral.”“All our channel partners were extremely impressed with our product portfolio, which is a testimony of Admiral’s commitment to its consumers. Admiral products are being retailed amongst all the top Retailers, Dealers and IR Channel Partners and Online Players. Our consumers are spoilt for choices with Admiral.”Admiral’s range has attractive features like Active Fresh, Smart Technology, Energy Saving, Smart Inverter, Turbo Cooling and Reliability that transforms “Human Experience”. Admiral has recently introduced unique products such as the Laundry Centre and 100 cm Gas cooker from Turkey. At the recently held Grand Event, Admiral unveiled its unique and exclusive product “The Laundry Center” that has no comparison in the market with 2 Drums - 5kg Washer at the top and 10 / 7Kg Washer & Dryer at the bottom.Admiral has one of the biggest Consumer Electronics and Appliances range, with products that fit the requirements of both Domestic and Commercial customers. Admiral Group also operates in verticals like Mobility (Electric Commercial Vehicles) and Energy (Charging solutions of Electric Vehicles).

EIB backs US$150 million Middle East venture capital initiative

The European Investment Bank (EIB), through its new dedicated development finance arm EIB Global, will provide US$27 million participation in the US$150 million Middle East Venture Fund IV (MEVF IV).The new venture capital fund launched by Middle East Venture Partners (MEVP) will increase targeted equity investment in high-growth e-commerce, health and education technology companies across the Middle East and Pakistan.“We welcome EIB Global’s US$27 million anchor investment in the US$150 million MEVF IV that will ensure that growth companies across the Middle East can grow, harness new business opportunities and create thousands of skilled jobs.” said Walid Hanna, Founder and co-CEO of MEVP.For his part, Gelsomina Vigliotti, Vice President of EIB said, “The European Investment Bank recognises the unique role of venture capital and works with leading venture capital partners to unlock high-impact targeted investment that boosts economic growth and ensures that entrepreneurs benefit from growth and innovation best practice.He added, “EIB Global is pleased to be the first anchor investor in the MEVF IV. New equity investment backed by the fund will enable local companies to grow, build on new opportunities for digital commerce, education and healthcare services highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic”Venture capital investment backed by the new fund will enable local companies across the Middle East and Pakistan to harness digital business opportunities unlocked by the pandemic and is expected to support creation of more than 8,000 jobs.Ambassador Christian Berger, Head of the European Union Delegation to Egypt, stated, “The European Union is committed to private sector development in Egypt and across the region. This new cooperation between EIB Global and MEVP will increase the role of technology driven business in the years ahead.”Local innovation companies will benefit 12 years of successful technical and sector investment and hands-on guidance shared by MEVP and the new initiative will scale up long-term investment in early and growth stage companies across the region.Over the last 12 years, Middle East Venture Partners has successfully backed more than 60 technology start-up companies across the Middle East.