Doha, 10 Dec. 2020 (Qatar Tribune)
By Ashraf Siddiqui
THe retail sector plays a driving force in the economies of countries and is a major contributor towards their Gross Domestic Product (GDPs). Goods produced in one corner of the world are consumed in other parts of the world through retail stores. that’s why the retail sector has a significant share in providing job opportunities and also plays a key role in minimising drainage of capital out of the country.
Robert Hall, General Manager of Doha Festival City shopping Mall, talked to Qatar Tribune about the importance of the retail sector. A British national, he has been working in the retail and hospitaity industry for more than 30 years now. A passionate personality, he shared the memorable and engaging experiences of his illustrious career.
“It would be hard to say that the pandemic’s impact was not felt in the retail sector,” he said. “However, there is a lot of optimism for the future. since the Mall’s reopening in July, we have experienced some of the best retail expenditures, and we now see an increased spending leading into the festive season”. Hall has worked in almost all operations and trading aspects of the retail business, across prominent properties in the UK and Kuwait, including centre:mk in Milton Keynes and Westfield London.
He said he enjoys sharing his experience, mentoring his teams, and witnessing their progress. “When you see people thriving by working with you, it is a very rewarding experience. I would say thatii am an adventure-seeker and a challenge-lover. this side of my personality has pushed me to work in high demanding professions, and to move around the world seeking new and exciting opportunities,” he said.
Talking about his experience in different cultures including the Gulf region, he said he is grateful for having a chance to discover and learn about such vibrant and interesting regions as the Gulf, across both Kuwait and Qatar.“this phase has been one of the most exciting experiences in my career,” he acknowledged.“Qatar has become home for me and my family,” he added. Working at one of the largest and most prestigious malls in Qatar, he noted, is both challenging and reward-ing and “I am proud of working with a wonderful, dedicated and hard working team. it is very satisfying to see that in quite a short time the Mall has become Qatar’s preferred destination”.
Talking about the important changes brought by the COViD-19 pandemic, he said, “it’s definitely the approach towards safety and hygiene and the need to continue to implement the strongest safety measures including wearing masks, maintaining social distancing, enhancing sanitization.”According to him, most of these measures will be practiced for a long time to come providing the guests with the reassurance to spend quality time at the Mall with their loved ones in utmost safety.
About the strategies adopted during the difficult times of closure due to the pandemic, he said that retailers being the greatest asset, the tenants were granted waiver of rents for a few months during the lockdown. He said he was able to open many new renowned brands in spite of the situation, and is constantly evolving to offer the best shopping, dining and entertainment experience to Qatar’s community.
“We have amazing plans for more openings by the end of this year and exciting announcements will be made soon for 2021”. talking about the importance of Corporate social responsibility (Csr), he said the DFC was extremely proud to be a part of the recently organised ‘European Drive-in Film Festival’, which he noted is a fresh example of DFC’s most engaging experience for Qatar’s community. Within the current restrictions on social gatherings, he pointed out, the format emerged as the perfect platform where everyone enjoyed the experience with utmost safety.