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Laurent Guitart, Chief Executive Officer, Convenience Arabia LLC

Circle K: Catering World Class Service with High Quality Products

The retail food industry has seen a massive upsurge in the past couple of decades and is expected to expand even further. What makes these retail food stores so popular as against traditional food stores is value for money, hygiene, and ambience.
Convenience stores is the buzzword today and food retailers are leaving no stone unturned to deliver the best with a variety of options.
We spoke to one such food retailer, Circle K that is focused on becoming the top convenience store. Following are the excerpts of the interview:
Please brief our audience about your company, its values, and how the company has been positioned as a leading player in the retail space.
Circle K is one of the largest food retailers in the world and is recognized as a Leading Global Franchise. It was brought by Convenience Arabia in 2009, catering a unique shopping experience for customers. We have been awarded as Best Convenience Retail Chain, three consecutive years in a row – 2017, 2018 and 2019. We are also Ranked #9 on the Top 10 Global Franchises for 2012 by Entrepreneur magazine, ahead of KFC, Domino’s, Dunkin’ Donuts and 7-Eleven. What makes us remarkable? It is the unique locations that we have.
What products does your company offer, and how are these making an impact on the industry and your customers?
We have got on-the-go healthy snacks, fresh food, hot meals, beverages, pastry items, the everyday necessities for your family. We impact our customers’ experience by catering a world class service and keeping the highest quality of products with healthy attributes for our customers.
Brief us about the featured person(s), their journey in the industry, and how they have contributed towards the company’s success.
The joining of Laurent Guitart in the team in 2015 brought a tremendous success for the company. He implemented numerous positive result programs, deep reorganization of management team and its Company Strategy Mission and Vision. He improved purchase and operations platform resulting in substantial increase in revenue and margin and streamlined relationship of partners and suppliers. Under his leadership, Circle K got awarded Best Retail Convenience Chain in UAE for three years in a row.
Being an experienced leader, share with us your opinion on how the adaptation of modern technologies such as AI, big data and machine learning have transformed the retail industry and what more could be expected in the near future?
Artificial Intelligence, big data and machine learning help us to rethink how we integrate information, analyze data, and insights to improve identifying our decision. We are forced to adapt these changes to cope up with the modern way of living. We can expect that in the near future retail stores will become unmanned and that only machines will work for them, such as smart vending machines.
Taking into consideration, the current pandemic, and its impact on global economies, how are you driving your company to sustain operations and ensuring safety of your employees at the same time?
Our immediate action helped protect the team and at the same time our business. Always, safety comes first. So, we implemented safety measures at all our outlets and in our office. It was a tough decision that we decided to close some of our stores, minimizing manpower from head office team to operations team, requesting the landlords for rent relief, and sending letters to suppliers to hold their payments and asking them to understand the situation. It was a horrible season for all businesses, but that is the reality.
What would be your advice to budding entrepreneurs who aspire to venture into the retail space?
My advice for them is to wake up 5 am every morning and be grateful. Learn to adapt the changes quickly, study the market trends and to put the customers at the heart of the business.
How do you envision scaling your company’s operations and offerings in 2021?
We keep showcasing great products in front of our customers, so they cannot resist but buy our products. At the same time, we do sales promotions. It has been used for decades and the outcome was always great success.