Archive for April 2010


Competition mapping

I was recently reprimanded and asked to delete couple of casually clicked fruit and vegetable display photographs at a French retailer’s hypermarket in Muscat.

Can a retailer keep a secret as innocent as fresh produce display that, as a customer, I wanted momentarily to capture for posterity. How much this retailer would have gained (as free publicity) or lost  (trade secret) through those photograph of beautiful display by local staff is anybody’s guess.

Someone has rightly said – ”Retail is combat sport”. The biggest problem with retail is lack of transparency of the business. Sam Walton spent thousands of hours inside his competitors’ stores. It’s virtually impossible to have any trade secrets in retailing. Your competitors can walk into your stores and, in about 15 minutes, understand your entire business-model advantage and how to replicate it. There are very few industries that are as openly transparent, and that’s problematic for retail business.“Location, location, location” and “retail is detail” does not seem too much of a competitive advantage. Perhaps, because of this, retail is a low margin business with little margin for error.

Growing vegetables in Oman

National Company for Agricultural & Livestock Development LLC. Nothing unusual about this Omani company’s name. Agreed. Nothing is unusual about Mr Abdus Sattar Basra, too who manages this company.  Except that he is a Kapurthala born poet at heart, taught agriculture till mid nineties in Oman after coming from Pakistan in 1961. It is amazing that he has single handedly transformed the 100 odd acres of barren land in proximity of sea (high humidity) into an all year round techno-production heaven for all kind of vegetables.

Hats off to you Mr. Sattar and to your grit and determination. You have really shown that environment is no limitation if  you want to do it and know how to do it and have patience to harvest the fruit of your labor.