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Nisreen Shocair, CEO YNAP Middle East is responsible for driving and developing the next phase of YOOX NET-A-PORTER GROUP’s ambitious strategy for the region. We spoke to Shocair about localisation, personalisation and connecting with the discerning, tech-savvy, luxury customer.

Tell us about your role as CEO for the Middle East at Yoox Net-A-Porter?

I’m looking forward to continuing to strengthen YOOX NET-A-PORTER’s leadership position in the luxury retail space in the region. As a business that has been around for 20 years, we have a lot of success to build on that can be tailored specifically for the Middle East, including localising and fostering communities around each of our brands.

Your role requires you to understand the differing demographics that exist throughout the GCC, what similarities and differences do you notice and how do you approach localisation with this in mind?

The Middle-East woman is highly-digital, mobile-savvy and wants service and speed like never before. In recent months, Middle Eastern customers have shown increased interest in timeless pieces they can wear for many seasons to come. However they also love to shop for fashion driven trend pieces, more than any other market. Looking ahead, we see categories, such as Fine Jewellery and Watches, Beachwear and evening wear continuing to grow. We have seen patterns in our customers’ sense of style by region and this is reflected in their shopping habits. We’ve noticed that in the UAE women are confident in standing out, but with more classic style parameters – favouring brands like Gucci and Zimmerman. They also buy directional pieces, more so in Saudi and Kuwait. In Kuwait they are the quickest to adopt the global trends, whilst in Saudi, they tend to find comfort and security in more traditional luxury brands including Saint Laurent and Balenciaga, but are also looking for uniqueness through exclusive collections and collaborations.

Which brands do you personally buy into?

I’m petite and prefer not to do any alterations to pieces, so  I look for brands that have slimmer fits and are available in smaller sizes. Zimmerman, Khaite and Balmain crop tops, Agolde jeans, Victoria Beckham, Bottega Veneta for accessories, Amina Muaddi, and our local favourite Taller Marmo.

We’ve only seen the beauty industry go from strength to strength – historically this pattern is heavily replicated in the Middle East. Is this something you’re seeing today?

Traditionally the Middle East beauty industry was driven by cosmetics. The recent trend is towards high-performance skincare with greater investments in ‘Dr’ brands such as Dr Barbara Sturm and Dr Sebagh. We’ve also seen a strong demand for luxury Haircare from the Middle East with brands such as Ouai, Virtue and Philip Kingsley. It’s an exciting space as it is still undersaturated with a growing appetite amongst younger customers to experiment with new brands and formulas.

Which platforms work best in the region as a mode of communication for luxury clients and do you still feel offline is as important as online?

In the Middle East, 70 per cent of sales are via mobile and app. Social media channels are critical as that’s how our younger Middle East consumers prefer us to engage with them. We also have a dedicated Personal Shopping team based in Dubai who are the bridge between online and offline for us, including hosting events such as the Style Suites. All channels integrate seamlessly to provide one experience with our brand.

Which brands or beauty products are your real hero buys?

Angela Caglia LED mask. Dr. Barbara Sturm Night Serum, Tom Ford shade and illuminate SPF 50, Huda Legit lashes and Perricone MD face cleanser.

Which Instagram accounts do you follow for inspiration – or books would you recommend?

I’ve read a few good books recently: Girl Woman Other. The Vanishing Half. Both were conversations about similar topics relating to identity. I love all social platforms for different reasons. On Instagram, other than staying on top of what we’re all about, it’s design and travel-focused accounts that I enjoy.

How did your previous roles help you succeed in your role and did you have a mentor in any of your previous roles?

My initial career was in the music industry, and this experience has helped me as fashion and music complement one another. Having the New York and London career experiences coupled with the Middle East definitely helps me translate the NET-A-PORTER brand values in a way that resonates best for our Middle East customers. Also having lived and worked in the Middle East for the last decade, I see the opportunities we have across all our four brands and have built the right network to make changes that will solidify our position in the market.

I’ve had great men and women mentors over the years who have taught me the true meaning of leadership.

What are your top pieces of business advice?

• Be determined about your path to success and use every opportunity to reinforce that vision.

• Managing with love, not fear, makes a CEO’s role far more rewarding.

• Profitability and sustainability can and should be aligned.

• Always say yes and don’t be scared to fail.

• Playing it safe is the surest way to stagnate.

• If you can be yourself at work, then work life will be a happy blurred line.

If you were not CEO at Yoox Net-A-Porter Middle East, which other role would you choose career-wise?

I love how technology is democratising and enabling creativity. I would be in the music industry, creating scores for tech and gaming platforms – like a Twitch platform but with music mixing technology built-in and where publishers are the users themselves.

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September’s – ‘The Power Issue’ – Download Now

Feature Image: Supplied