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Follow The Leader: Nisreen Shocair, CEO, YOOX Net-A-Porter Middle East Nisreen Shocair is leading the regional arm of an online luxury fashion retailer launched in 2000 that today boasts of four million active customers in 180 countries around the world.

By Aby Sam Thomas

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Nisreen Shocair
Nisreen Shocair, CEO, Yoox Net-A-Porter Middle East

As the CEO of the YOOX Net-a-Porter Group in the Middle East, Nisreen Shocair is leading the regional arm of an online luxury fashion retailer launched in 2000 that today boasts of four million active customers in 180 countries around the world.

With the Group made up of four separate brands (YOOX, Net-a-Porter, Mr. Porter, and The Outnet), Shocair clearly has her hands full in terms of working to strengthen each of these businesses either by adding new and exciting products and services to their offering, or simply by growing into new markets in the region.

Having launched in the Middle East as a joint venture with Mohammed Alabbar's Symphony Investments in 2016, YOOX Net-a-Porter's focus on the region is pretty evident, with it recently launching an Arabic platform to foster communities around each of its brands. "We are a global business that understands the needs of this region by city, and we are committed to make the Middle East an even more key part of our business, and as we grow our local capabilities, this dream is becoming a reality," Shocair explains. "The newly-optimized platform has been designed to reflect the interests and needs of our Middle East customer, via dual language product search, alongside local editorial content, product curation, and local pricing. Our in-market personal shopping team completes the fullservice proposition, and they help us to fully cater to the individual needs of our Middle East customers."

A 2019 McKinsey report had noted that annual fashion sales in the Middle East's GCC markets amount to US$50 billion, with the spending in some of these countries ranked as among the highest on a per capita basis annually. Now, these numbers may have gone through a fair amount of fluctuations in subsequent years thanks to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, but the sentiment in the market at large seems to be that it is on its way to recovery now. And this seems to be corroborated by the behavior that is being shown by YOOX Net a Porter's clientele in the region.

"We don't like to generalize, as every city across the region differs in styles and trends, but what we do know is the Middle East woman is highly digital, mobile-savvy, and wants service and speed like never before," Shocair says. "Over the recent months, we have seen our customers exhibit excitement and optimism, investing more in forever investment pieces, including fine jewelry, watches, and luxury bags that they can buy now and wear forever, and with sustainability front of mind. More and more, our customers are showing an interest in supporting designers and initiatives that are charitable, inclusive, and sustainable, such as the ones included in our Net Sustain edit."

Source: Yoox Net-A-Porter

Shocair looks to be quite confident about leading her business through the repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic, and it's safe to say that her selfassuredness stems from the experiences she had in her career so far. Indeed, Shocair enjoyed leadership positions in companies like HSE24, Virgin Megastore, Hearst Entertainment and Bertelsmann AG before taking on her current role at YOOX Net-a-Porter in early 2020.

"I have lived in so many countries, worked in two other related industries, and five other companies prior to coming to YOOX Net-a-Porter," she says. "I always chose the industry I wanted to work in, that was the right fit for me, and me for them, and chose companies with strong management teams I believed in. The YOOX Net-a-Porter opportunity felt so right for exactly the same reasons: its commitment to sustainability, coupled with me believing in the company vision, I felt that this is a company I could help drive future success for."

And Shocair certainly seems to be doing a good job at it- according to her, while the business she leads has had to deal with repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic, the circumstances have also allowed it to double down on its innovative edge. "The past year has challenged us all to adapt and develop in all that we do," she says. "It has, of course, been a challenging time for us all personally, but through great hardship is when change and positivity emerge. It has challenged us as a business to be productive in new ways, and, of course, it has changed the way we communicate with and deliver for our customers. These behaviors will not reverse. We are also not going back to anything we knew before. The world going forward is uncharted territory, and the strongest are those who are able to cope with this adversity, and are able to adapt to the customers' ever-changing needs fastest. The future is experiences (digital and physical), and the future is localized. Through best inclass products and services on our new digital and localized platforms, we are best positioned to keep this business in growth mode."

Related: Follow The Leader: Omar Jackson, Partner, Berkeley Assets

Nisreen Shocair's tips for entrepreneurs

1. DO WHAT YOU LOVE "It's so important to have passion and to love what you do. Without that drive and determination, you will struggle to put all of your time and energy into something when starting out."

2. FOCUS ON YOUR PEOPLE "For me, the team and people around me are so important. You need to build a team who are aligned and that believe in your vision, and will strive to help meet the businesses goals."

3. LEAD WITH THE BUSINESS IN MIND "Whether you are the CEO or the founder, it's key to be at one with the organization."

4. DON'T FOLLOW THE HERD "Playing it safe is not an option- it is key to not be afraid of failure, and to be determined and focused on your path to succeed."

5. LEAN TOWARD THE OPTIMISTIC SIDE OF THINGS "A positive, can-do attitude is always in trend."

Related: Follow The Leader: Dr. Hibah Shata, Founder, Maharat Learning Center

Aby Sam Thomas

Entrepreneur Staff

Editor in Chief, Entrepreneur Middle East

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.  

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