Arab News to host panel on ‘Middle East’s perception problem’

The Top CEO Conference is coming to Saudi Arabia following previous editions in Dubai.
Updated 10 April 2018
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Arab News to host panel on ‘Middle East’s perception problem’

JEDDAH: Perceptions about the Middle East will come under the microscope this week at a panel discussion hosted by Arab News.
The event, held at the Top CEO Conference and Awards, will probe the region’s image in Europe and wider world at a time of deep global division and upheaval.
Titled “The Middle East’s perception problem,” it will examine the region’s image, how it can be changed, and why there has arguably been a failure in communication with the rest of the world.
Moderated by Faisal J. Abbas, editor in chief of Arab News, the panel will comprise of four key experts working in the region or world of diplomacy.
Former German Ambassador Dr. Gunter Mulack, of the German Orient Institute in Berlin, will speak on the panel. Mulack entered into the German diplomatic service in 1971, and served mostly in the Arab world. He was German ambassador to Bahrain, Kuwait and Syria as well as consul general in Casablanca, along with other postings.
Elisabetta Martini, the consul general of Italy based in Jeddah, will also speak on the panel. Martini is also Italian special envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and author of several papers on the reform of the UN Security Council.
Khaled Al-Maeena, managing partner of Quartz communication company, will join the panel discussion. The former Arab News editor has a unique perspective about the image of the region overseas, having held a broad range of positions in the Saudi media over almost 30 years. His roles have included CEO of a PR firm, TV news anchor, radio announcer and journalist.
Michael Garin, CEO of the Abu Dhabi-based media and entertainment company Image Nation, will also speak during the discussion at the Top CEO event. With over 40 years’ experience in the industry, Garin oversees Image Nation’s strategy and operations and has played a vital role in forging key international partnerships. His media career began at Time Inc. where he worked for TIME, Fortune and Time-Life Television for over a decade.
The Top CEO Conference and Awards will include both on- and off-record sessions. Some of the topics that will be covered include: New technologies, challenges of slow growth, the ‘broken job machine’, and women and leadership.
Frank Kane, Arab News’ senior business columnist, is also moderating a panel discussion on public-private partnerships.
It is the first time the Top CEO event has been held in Saudi Arabia, following previous sessions in Dubai. Held at King Abdullah Economic City near Jeddah, it will run from April 10-11.

More information is available at http://www.topceo.me.


Online fashion retailer Boohoo’s sales almost double

Updated 25 April 2018
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Online fashion retailer Boohoo’s sales almost double

LONDON: British online fast-fashion retailer Boohoo beat forecasts with a 40 percent jump in annual profit and an almost doubling of revenue as its mainly younger customers snapped up its budget-friendly designs.
The company, which imitates the latest fashions and sells them at “pocket money” prices to mainly twentysomethings, said it had made a strong start to this year, sending its shares as much as 18 percent higher.
Its robust performance and that of bigger online peer ASOS highlights how the Internet is reshaping the British retail landscape and the clothing sector in particular.
“Against a backdrop of difficult trading in the UK clothing sector, the group continued to perform well, gaining market share in the expanding online sector,” said joint chief executives Mahmud Kamani and Carol Kane.
Founded in Manchester, northern England, in 2006, Boohoo has expanded rapidly, purchasing the PrettyLittleThing and Nasty Gal brands at the beginning of last year.
The pure Internet players are bucking a challenging backdrop for UK consumers, outflanking and taking market share from traditional rivals burdened with big store estates.
Last week the 240-year old Debenhams department store chain reported a 52 percent slump in first-half profit and warned on the full-year outlook for the second time in four months.
In stark contrast, Boohoo raised sales and profit guidance four times in 2017-18.
The company made a pretax profit of £43.3 million pounds in the year to February 28, up from £30.9 million a year earlier and topping the £39.4 million expected by analysts, according to Reuters data. Revenue soared 97 percent to £579.8 million, ahead of company guidance.
The stock has come off from 273 pence in June last year, on concerns profit growth will be held back by a step-up in investment.
However, Boohoo said on Wednesday it could invest more in systems, technology, warehouses, distribution and marketing, while still delivering substantial sales and profit growth.
Capital expenditure in 2018-19 would be £50 million- £60 million. Revenue growth was forecast at 35-40 percent, with a profit (EBITDA) margin of 9-10 percent.
Looking beyond 2018-19 it forecast sales growth of “at least” 25 percent, whilst maintaining a 10 percent EBITDA margin.
“Critically, fears of a ‘margin reset’ have not been realized,” said analysts at Peel Hunt, reiterating their “buy” recommendation.
“Changes to distribution plans means the next move is likely to be overseas,” they said.