Building Bonds: Interview with Mothercare’s COO, Ruban Shanmugarajah

Bahrain Confidential interviews Mothercare’s Chief Operating Officer, Ruban Shanmugarajah.

What brings you to Bahrain?

I’m here for the launch of ‘Mothercare Select’. By way of this platform, we open a world of amazing rewards exclusively for our top customers and acknowledge them for their continued patronage of the brand.

What is Mothercare Select?

‘Mothercare Select’ is powered by Shukran- the loyalty initiative of Landmark Group. It is an offshoot of the customer-centric business philosophy of Mothercare that has been built over decades of service to develop meaningful & gratifying relationships with customers and further drive multifaceted engagement, more value and an enhanced shopping experience.

Mothercare was the first of its kind, but now the market is crowded with competing companies, some of which to a greater or lesser extent have attempted to mimic your concept. How can Mothercare best differentiate itself?

Mothercare, Bahrain was established in 1973 and it is the first brand of the Landmark Group. We have a strong legacy of 45 years in the region as a home-grown brand catering to the second generation of mothers, who, in all probability, shopped with us as babies or toddlers with their moms. This, topped with our vast product range, wide variety, affordability and personalized service are the pivotal factors that differentiate us from competition.

What do you consider to have been the biggest changes to the brand in recent years?

Keeping pace and evolving with the ever-changing customer needs and expectations. Understanding the millennial mother better to enhance the overall shopping experience.

What are the biggest challenges, and opportunities, facing Mothercare in 2018?

The challenges would be a surge in online shopping, new malls & shopping complexes coming up leading to an increased GLA (Gross Leasable Area), heightened competition, the mounting pressure of regional macroeconomic factors, besides the introduction of VAT in Bahrain which would further affect the disposable income of the customers and control their purse strings. Nevertheless, we are very confident in our offering and its value proposition and are inclined to consider our challenges as opportunities to devise innovative strategies to connect with the customers.

Do you Middle East outlets in anyway differ compared to your stores in other countries?

Before we enter any new market, we conduct a thorough research on the needs, tastes and preferences of the local consumers. Hence, our stores are tailored to meet the demands of the regional market whilst preserving the core brand identity.