I am delighted to report another record year of sales performance at over AED 1.2 billion, all the more impressive given the challenges facing both business and individuals over the last 12 months across the GCC. It is with tremendous pride that I can see how the continuing investments made in our staff development and training has given them the strength and knowledge to be able to manage and conquer all that is put in front of them.
As a business we have both our own brands and franchise brands which last year served a staggering 6.2 million GCC customers. We have successfully created our own brands, Nayomi and Mikyajy, which now have over 400 stores between them – and they complement the 200+ stores we operate for The Body Shop and Early Learning Centre. Our continued investment in growing these brands combines our strong local knowledge with global expertise and provides the platform for all of our futures.
Nayomi continued to roll out the new Princess store format and produced some very strong results from this investment. There was also substantial development of new products and ranges culminating in the opening of our first flagship Princess Palace store in Mall of Arabia, Jeddah in early 2014. This flagship concept is almost three times the size of our standard Princess store and is carrying over 800 new product lines not previously seen in Nayomi.
Mikyajy also created a new store look last year with a brighter and more modern feel combined with innovative new product displays. Strong organic growth from these new stores has encouraged further rollout across the portfolio in the coming years.
The Body Shop and Early Learning Centre also grew their store numbers in the last 12 months, both brands taking advantage of the continued roll out of the Pulse and Animal store concepts introduced the previous year. In total, the Group invested in excess of AED 120 million in over 140 projects for brand new and refurbished stores over the last 12 months.
We are also heavily investing to develop other own label new brands alongside our existing portfolio, including the launch of our new Nayomi Abaya store concept in 2013. By investing and developing these own label brands we can bring new and sustainable careers where we live and work – fulfilling part of our mission statement to create meaningful jobs in our communities. A business is like a community, and like a country, if the individuals who live and work in it are educated and skilled, they will build a better future for the generations yet to come.
Today the substantial majority of our shop workforce across the Gulf are women, perfectly matching our store portfolio and customer base. Our vision is consistent in trying to recruit the best people we can find who want to work and build a good career and future for themselves and their families. We respect everyone irrespective of nationality, race and caste. Where we do discriminate is performance – and this process has seen both women and men rise from sales assistants to shop managers, area managers and to sales managers.
I am privileged to lead a team full of innovation and who are dedicated to hard work – for that I would like to personally thank them. I would also like to express my gratitude to our customers for believing in our products and service, to our suppliers for their loyalty and to all our stakeholders for their continued support. I am fascinated by the journey of the KOJ business so far, and excited about the next developments. I wish everyone success and happiness for the road ahead.