2021, The Year That Was: Mohammad A. Baker, Deputy Chairman and CEO, GMG

"When we see an opportunity, we go after it– this is in our DNA, this is the drive that keeps pushing us to evolve, to be the change, and to be a trusted partner."

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While GMG is today known for being a UAE-born global company retailing, distributing, and manufacturing a portfolio of leading international and homegrown brands across the sport, food, and health sectors in 12 countries across the Middle East, North Africa, and Asia, one needs to remember that the enterprise didn’t come into being like that- in fact, it was a single butcher’s shop founded by Abdul Aziz Hassan Baker in 1978 that expanded into the diversified, Dubai-headquartered family-owned business that it is today.

GMG

It has been a spectacular transformation, no doubt, and that appears to be the spirit with which Deputy Chairman and CEO Mohammad A. Baker led an overhaul of the business earlier this year. “In October 2021, we were incredibly proud to embark on a new corporate strategy that included a restructuring of our existing business units, the unveiling of a new brand identity, and a new purpose-centric vision for GMG to inspire people to win in ways that make the world better,” Baker explains. “With the objective to promote healthier and more active lifestyles, our new business verticals are GMG Sports, GMG Food, GMG Health, and GMG Consumer Goods. This business shift -and others during the year- came in part from a recognition that communities and governments around the world are striving to progress sustainable development goals, which are often anchored in personal well-being.”

GMG headquarters in Dubai. Source: GMG

Baker is clearly keeping a close eye on the forces shaping business today, and that’s exactly what is governing his plans for GMG in the new year. “What I’m looking forward to the most in 2022 is exploring business opportunities across new product categories, markets, and sectors, strengthening our e-commerce capabilities, and growing our food manufacturing vertical,” he reveals. “We are particularly excited about the latter, as our plan is that by 2022, GMG will have six dedicated product lines under one roof: meat, seafood, herbs, salt, spices, and cold cuts, including butchery and marination.”

According to Baker, such moves are in line with GMG’s new vision and values, which are also setting the stage for its next chapter of growth. “We are now laser-focused on improving people’s lives through active living, nutritious food, and good health,” Baker says. “We will continue to look at acquiring new international brands, developing homegrown concepts, entering new markets in 2022, and growing our existing partnerships. We will also reap the benefits of recent internal restructuring, including the establishment of new vertical divisions and reporting lines to optimize performance, and explore new synergies.”

And underlying all of these efforts will be GMG’s ethos as a business, which, Baker points out, is all about believing that nothing is not achievable, and working hard to capitalize on every opportunity that presents itself. “Let me take you back to the end of 2020– the business sentiment was low, and markets were down,” Baker recalls. “But we saw an opportunity and took a bold step by entering the Asian market, and acquired the popular Royal Sporting House brand. When we see an opportunity, we go after it– this is in our DNA, this is the drive that keeps pushing us to evolve, to be the change, and to be a trusted partner.”

Mohammad A. Baker, Deputy Chairman and CEO, GMG. Source: GMG

Reflections 2021: Mohammad A. Baker, Deputy Chairman and CEO, GMG

Be resilient, purpose-led, and agile. “The last few years brought unique challenges to the world. But as an entrepreneur, if you’re resilient and keep your purpose at the forefront of your mind, you’ll be able to navigate anything that comes your way. Additionally, you must keep your finger on the pulse of the market, and be prepared to challenge the status quo. As a business leader, you must be prepared to evolve with changing situations.” 

Support your ecosystem. “No business can work in a silo for long. One thrives by collaborating and contributing to the success of a broader ecosystem of partners, public entities, institutions, and more. At GMG, we have introduced more than 120 brands into our markets. We know firsthand that investing in their success has paved the way for our success.” 

Be people-centric. “Ultimately, no business can succeed without its employees. At GMG, we imbibe our value of winning as one family, and we believe in the power of investing in and nurturing our talent.” 

Related: 2021, The Year That Was: Fares Ghattas, Global CEO, The Luxury Network International

Aby Sam Thomas

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Entrepreneur Staff

Aby Sam Thomas is the Editor in Chief of Entrepreneur Middle East. In this role, Aby is responsible for leading the publication on its editorial front, while also working to build the brand and grow its presence across the MENA region through the development and execution of events and other programming, as well as through representation in conferences, media, etc.

Aby has been working in journalism since 2011, prior to which he was an analyst programmer with Accenture, where he worked with J. P. Morgan Chase's investment banking arm at offices in Mumbai, London, and New York. He holds a Master's Degree in Journalism from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York.