Nisreen Shocair has been the President of Virgin Megastore for the Middle East (VM), a division of Azadea Group Holding, since 2006. Virgin Megastore Middle East is a leading entertainment brand and retailer in the region, synonymous with youth, trend, entertainment and culture.
Since joining Virgin Megastore, Shocair has initiated and led the brand’s transformation and evolution in the region, outplaying the challenges faced by international physical entertainment retailers and the decreasing physical music and movie sales. In parallel, managing to achieve double-digit growth year on year and aggressively expanding the brand’s footprint in the region.
Nisreen has built the Virgin brand across the region by incorporating local and international consumption trends into one shopping experience. Nisreen has worked within the music, publishing, licensing, digital entertainment and retail industries. She has held positions at Sony Music, Bertelsmann AG, Hearst Entertainment and most recently Virgin Megastore ME.
Upon joining, the London Business School and Columbia University graduate saw an opportunity for the strong brand to widen its customer base appeal by expanding the experience while staying true to the established entertainment retail positioning. When Nisreen Shocair joined Virgin Megastore, the brand was well established in the region as a music and movies retail destination, primarily targeting and attracting male customers, the majority over 35. It was necessary to expand the brand appeal to a broader representation of the market, through working to improve on ways to attract and retain customers from outside the brand’s original customer base.
When families visited the malls and the fathers came to Virgin Megastore, the rest of the family used to leave them there and go to visit other stores to look for fashion products, accessories, or toys. There were hardly any products at Virgin Megastores to entice mothers and kids to stay and browse.
Nisreen led an organization-wide culture of change since day one, identifying and grabbing opportunities that eventually got the brand and stores to where they are today: the leading lifestyle entertainment retail destination in the Middle East. Virgin Megastore now represents a unique shopping experience that is as appealing to every member of the family, with a strong focus on younger customers.
The transformation started as early as 2007 with the introduction of new product categories targeting kids, women and families. Toys, educational products, gift items and a unique range of fashion and accessories made it to the larger stores, therefore attracting a new audience. The design and look of the stores also started evolving to a brighter, airier environment that makes the whole family feel welcome. The stores’ main pathways were re-designed to allow for easier access for moms with prams. The music playing in the stores started becoming softer.
In 2010, the Dubai Mall store became a milestone for the brand, with the first flagship format to naturally include all of these changes in a fresh look-and-feel environment. The store décor was all light colors and earthy elements, aisles were wide, which all contributed to create a more welcoming environment.
For Virgin Megastore to thrive, Nisreen saw that the evolution of the brand would need to be continuous, and so it has been since then. The latest milestone came in 2014, with the opening of the brand’s first concept lifestyle store in Yas Mall, Abu Dhabi. Conceptualized by Shocair, the store is an exciting and vibrant destination that pushes the boundaries and takes the ‘one-stop shop for all entertainment needs’ brand promise to a new level.
Nisreen is very active in driving support for local businesses and entrepreneurship initiatives in the UAE and region, she has a global perspective having lived and worked in New York, London, the Middle East and Africa.
The mother of three is truly a role model for every member of the Virgin Megastore team, and an inspiration to every woman looking to successfully balance family life with strong professional success.
Nisreen was awarded Female CEO of the Year by CEO Middle East in 2011 and Businesswoman of the Year by Women in Leadership in 2011. She was on the 100 Most Powerful Arab Women’s list three years in a row by Arabian Woman magazine and was also listed amongst the top 100 most Powerful Arab Women in 2014 by Forbes Middle East. She was also a winner during the 2014 Blue Ocean Retail Brilliance Awards. Nisreen is on the advisory board of several digital and environmental start-ups. She is a YPO and YAL member and is a frequent guest lecturer on innovation and product development.