The establishment of a consumer Union Coop in Dubai was nothing but an idea that came to the minds of a small group of enthusiastic citizens who were keen on developing and serving their Community and country in the early 1980s. They all have one thing in common: they were committed to the common good and they shared the cooperative ideas as the solution to the shopping problems, namely the disparity between prices and the low service quality provided by retail commercial centers back then, along with the absence of national institutions in this field.
We all agreed on the importance and necessity of establishing a consumer Union Coop in Dubai. Hence, studies and consultations started.
At the beginning of the establishment phase, we were hesitating as we feared failure. The idea posed challenges on all levels, but after relying on God, we visited one of the institutors Mr. Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor to seek his advice about the idea. This visit had a great supporting impact on us, as his opinion was decisive and he encouraged us to move forward and not backward, even if we have to recourse to experts in this field and pay high salaries until we reach the necessary experience to run the work on our own, which provided us with high self-confidence. That's where we started with 276 shareholders and a capital of AED 3.6 million only.
At that time, the Board of Directors and its committees were in charge of putting and executing the plans, on the light of the personal experiences of their members in the local market. However, the challenges that emerged on the market obliged us to re-examine all our operations.
In 2001, when we attended one of the worldwide conferences for retail (ECR Europe) during three days, we saw how the world was working at that time, which had a great effect on us. As a result, we sought to keep pace with such developments, which we are still far from. We were needing ten years of hard work to reach our goal, by keeping pace with the international companies in this field.
After this visit, we had recourse to international expertise houses, seeking their help in the restructuring process and in the setup of strategic goals and plans for the Cooperative.
Thank God, we reached our goal after we changed our way of thinking according to the international standards and implemented it locally (think globally).
As a result, the main priority of UNION COOP in the local market was to maintain the price stability and still is. Furthermore, it preserved its continuity and success by providing competitive prices and adopting system of values and ethics such as transparency, honesty and integrity in dealing with all stakeholders. Another secret of its success is its reliance on self-financing to execute its new projects without borrowing from others.
UNION COOP managed to take up the challenges of establishment, operating and competition. Yet, it is still pursuing its efforts in the field of development of (legislations and laws that govern its work), which constitute the major challenge that it tries to take up in accordance with the market data and the relevant rules of competition.
It is worth noting that during the last 32 years, the success of UNION COOP is due to the efforts of everybody, namely the wise Government of Dubai, represented by H.H Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President, Prime Minister, ruler of Dubai; and H.H Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-ruler of Dubai, minister of finance, Chairman of Dubai Municipality, through the unlimited support to UNION COOP, which contributed to enhancing its success, namely at the beginning phase.
Finally, I hope UNION COOP becomes the No.1 retail pioneer in the United Arab Emirates.
After all, we thank All-mighty God who helped us accomplish this duty.
Majid Hamad Rahmah Al Shamsi