Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has taken vast measures to ease doing business in the country in the short term, and progressed initiatives of strategic and long-term success.
Some of the immediate measures included the extension of Value Added Tax (VAT) filings, Covid-19 measures for the economic substance rules, refund of Customs duties, as well postponements of rent payments, cancelling of fines, waiving of licenses fees and other registration fees in mainland as well as Free Zones.
With this in mind, Deloitte has just launched its “Doing business guide UAE”, a taxation and investment guide to help investors gain a working perspective on the operating conditions and investment climate in the Emirates.
“Over the last twelve months, the United Arab Emirates has demonstrated unparalleled resilience with the COVID-19 outbreak and fostered its stance as a leading hub for investors, businesses and individuals. The country deployed several measures including significant medical response as well as fiscal stimulus packages. This agile response has laid the basis to increase foreign direct investment and attract talent,” explains Jan Roderick Van Abbe, Director, International and M&A Tax, Deloitte Middle East.
In late 2020, the UAE amended the Commercial Companies Law to allow 100% foreign ownership in mainland with some exceptions still to be confirmed. The UAE also introduced relaxed residency and visa requirements and recently announced that UAE citizenship will be granted to foreigners, subject to certain conditions.
“The UAE is a regional trade hub and a focal Middle Eastern destination for international investors. The open environment, stability, infrastructure and efficient corporate and immigration processes have attracted many investors throughout the past years. The UAE authorities oversee ongoing reforms to ensure that the country offers an efficient regulatory framework enabling companies to access the talent and workforce they need to operate in the country and wider region,” added Hadi Allawi, Partner and Immigration Leader, Deloitte Middle East.
In addition, Dubai also launched a virtual/remote working program enabling eligible foreign professionals, entrepreneurs and company owners to work remotely from Dubai for up to one year with the ability to bring their family members with them as well as access all services in the Emirates, including accommodation, utilities, and schooling for children.
To view the full report, click here.
Total sells wind and solar farm stakes to Credit Agricole and Banque des Territoires
PARIS (Reuters) – French energy group Total has agreed to sell off stakes in some wind and solar farms to Credit Agricole Assurances and Banque des Territoires, in deals which Total said would boost its cash flow and return on equity.
Total said on Tuesday that Crédit Agricole Assurances would buy a 50% stake in nine wind farms (103 MW) and 44 solar power plants (182 MW) for a total capacity of 285 MW.
Banque des Territoires would buy a 50% stake in a portfolio consisting of eight solar farms located in New Caledonia with a total capacity of 53 MW, with the deals giving 100% of the portfolios an enterprise value of $600 million.
“These farm downs are the implementation of the business model we have defined for the development of renewable energies aiming to achieve over 10% return on equity,” said Julien Pouget, senior vice president of Total’s renewables unit.
Earlier this month, Total reported better than expected fourth quarter earnings as oil prices stabilised, and said it would change its name to TotalEnergies to reflect its move towards the renewable energy sector.
Total is building up a portfolio in the renewables and electricity sectors that could account for up to 40% of its sales by 2050, while also eyeing opportunities for divestments which could increase its cash flow and return for investors.
(Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta, editing by Louise Heavens)
Retailers need to deliver better rewards to ensure customer loyalty
- 62% feel retailers need to improve the ways they reward consumers for shopping with them
- 55% believe that loyalty programmes rarely offer them the things they actually want or would use
- 48% want retailers to focus on making the shopping experience better for them, rather than a loyalty programme
Rewards programmes are not delivering on their promise to drive customer loyalty for retailers, according to the latest research from Adyen, the payments platform of choice for many of the world’s leading companies. The majority of customers (55%) say that rewards programmes do not offer things they actually want and that customer experience holds almost equal influence when it comes to loyalty (48%).
The findings come from a report conducted by Adyen exploring how agility will be key for the retail sector as it emerges from the Coronavirus pandemic. The research polled more than 2,000 consumers in the UK in 2020.
The results showed that, while rewards and loyalty schemes are still welcomed by many customers, the majority (62%) feel that retailers need to improve how they reward their shoppers.
“Every customer counts – especially in the context of the pandemic. Anything retailers can do to keep customers coming back for more is worth exploring. But it goes beyond a loyalty or rewards scheme. The customer experience, both online and in store really matters. Making it as easy as possible to shop is equally as important as other incentives. And, if you do go down the rewards route, a one-size-fits-all approach rarely delivers. You must make the effort to understand your customers and offer something they really want,” said Myles Dawson, UK Managing Director, Adyen.
Nearly half of the respondents (48%) want retailers to focus on making the shopping experience better for them, rather than delivering a loyalty programme. When it comes to an experience that will drive loyalty, customers want a seamless link between online and physical stores. 60% of consumers said they would be more loyal to retailers that let them buy out of stock items in store and have them shipped directly to their home. And 53% said they would be more loyal to retailers that let people buy online and return in store.
“The high street is under increasing competition from online retailers who put convenience and usability at the centre of their customer experience. To succeed now, businesses must harness the best of their physical and digital worlds to create amazing experiences. This will increase conversions and also raise the prospects of customer loyalty.
“For those consumers that want loyalty schemes, it must be as seamless and easy as possible. 61% of respondents were more likely to shop with a retailer that linked their loyalty scheme to the payment card. By doing this, businesses can track customer buying behaviour and shopper data which lets them offer a more personalised shopping experience,” Dawson concluded.
The pandemic has changed consumer behaviour and retailers need to adapt
By Mary Keane-Dawson, Group CEO of TAKUMI
It’s no secret that the retail industry has been badly hit by the pandemic, with the recent collapse of Arcadia and Debenhams providing a harsh reality check as to what the future could hold for brick-and-mortar stores. With all non-essential shops being ordered to close last month, with no re-opening date confirmed, it is inevitable that a natural shift to online platforms would occur.
Online giants, ASOS and Boohoo, have established themselves as the new industry leaders. Both e-commerce giants bought failing Arcadia brands and Debenhams and ruthlessly closed all the retailers’ physical premises. The shift to online in the retail sector has never been more apparent.
Retail brands need to establish their digital presence to serve their consumers’ changing behaviour and to remain competitive in the retail industry.
Capitalising on changing consumer behaviour
The pandemic has meant consumer needs have adapted, which in turn has led to a shift in consumer behaviour. Retailers need to capitalise on changing consumer behaviour to remain relevant, but more importantly profitable.
The ‘stay at home’ message from the government, which has been almost constant throughout the past 12 months, has meant many consumers have started to become more reliant on online channels and platforms.
Supermarkets, such as Aldi and Co-Op, responded to this change in consumer behaviour by deciding to serve their customers on delivery apps, such as Deliveroo. As fewer people were ‘popping to the shops’ due to lockdown restrictions, supermarkets reacted by offering an instant delivery service, essentially where the ‘shop pops to you’.
The shift to online platforms and influencer marketing
Retail brands need to follow suit and adapt their ways of working to reflect this shift to e-commerce. Ted Baker, the premium fashion retailer, has admitted its disappointing online sales figures last quarter could be due to its slow response to the shift to ecommerce. The retailer is aiming to “significantly improve” its online shopping platform because of this.
As the shift to online platforms accelerates, retailers need to start investing in digital marketing, for example influencer marketing, to ensure their brand stays at the forefront of their consumers’ minds. Evan Horowitz, CEO of Movers+Shakers, a creative agency, explained in our whitepaper in August how the pandemic has led his company to increase its influencer marketing as “influencers are more influential than ever”.
As such, many traditional retailers have started exploring the benefits of influencer marketing. Wickes, in partnership with TAKUMI, launched the UK’s first ever home improvement industry TikTok campaign to reach a new audience with authentic and creative content and to drive awareness of its range of products. Our whitepaper, Into the Mainstream: Influencer Marketing in Society, which surveyed over 3,500 consumers, marketers, and influencers across the US, UK, and Germany, found that almost three-quarters of marketers (73%) upped spend on influencer marketing in the past 12 months, with spending significantly increasing in the retail (79%) sector.
It seems inevitable that more brands will continue to invest in influencer marketing with social media’s popularity increasing as we start to enter a post-pandemic world.
Using social media as a tool to respond to changing consumer behaviour
With marketers upping their influencer marketing spend, many social media platforms have also responded to the growing popularity of ecommerce.
Instagram redesigned its layout to ensure its Shopping and Reels tabs were given more prominence. The Instagram shopping feature allows brands to attach a virtual shopping tag to their ads on the platform. People can click on a tagged item and then be re-directed to the brands’ product webpage.
Similarly, TikTok’s rising popularity has led it to launch its own ecommerce offering. Last October, TikTok announced a partnership with Shopify. This partnership will enable Shopify merchants to create, run and optimise TikTok marketing campaigns that will attract consumers from TikTok’s growing user base.
Instagram and TikTok are slowly evolving from content platforms to ecommerce hubs. This transformation coincides with the rise in consumers shopping online following the pandemic.
What’s to come for retailers, post-pandemic?
Consumer behaviour is changing and the pandemic has accelerated the shift towards social media and ecommerce. Retail brands need to recognise that the shift to online is here to stay.
To remain relevant, brands need to allocate appropriate budgets to digital marketing channels. Interestingly, our whitepaper found it was marketers from traditional media channels that were increasing their influencer marketing spend the most, demonstrating that the shift to digital marketing has already begun. Retail brands need to start to prepare themselves for the post-pandemic retail environment to avoid ending up like Arcadia and Debenhams.
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