Tracing the Footsteps of Success: The Journey of Kamal Osman Jamjoom
How a man from humble beginnings brought about a business boom in the region.
They say that success is a journey and not a destination, an ongoing process of enduring and persevering towards our goals. For others, we see milestones indicating how far they have gone which others may trace and learn from—just like those of Kamal Osman Jamjoom.
As the owner of the Kamal Osman Jamjoom Group, otherwise known as KOJ, Mr. Kamal is undoubtedly a personification of success for establishing the leading multi-channel retail groups in the Middle East which offer successful and innovative brands in beauty, fashion, interiors, food & beverage, and children’s learning and development sectors.
Just like most people, Mr. Kamal also started as an employee. He worked at Procter and Gamble (P&G), an American multinational consumer goods corporation. His experience at P&G provided him experience which later served as one of his stepping stones for his future business ventures.
“I learned about management, manufacturing, and marketing at P&G,” the KOJ founder and chairperson shared in an interview for RetailMe.
First Few Steps
The KOJ that we know today took over 35 years in the making, tracing from its franchise of The Body Shop (TBS) in Jeddah, KSA.
“We thought we’d open three TBS stores initially,” Mr. Kamal shared, “and that would be our little business.”
However, as luck and hard work would have it, the simple business venture went along the wave of a boom in oil, population, and infrastructure, paving the way for opportunities. From one of its earliest franchises, after the acquisition of The Body Shop stores in the UAE last year, KOJ operates over 161 TBS stores alone in the GCC.
From TBS, KOJ has also become a long-time partner of other well-known brands in the region, establishing its name as a massive retail conglomerate.
Apart from franchises, KOJ also took a turn towards establishing its own brands. The first private label the company ventured into is the lingerie brand, Nayomi, which was followed by the cosmetics brand, Mikyajy, among others.
Mr. Kamal’s ability to turn challenges into opportunities enabled the realization of his first brand. He shared that Nayomi was brought into the picture after a franchisee brand didn’t pick up. Instead of choosing to close the store, he decided to take a different route which then led to the making of the Nayomi we know today.
Presently, KOJ operates leading regional and international brands. According to its website (www.kojamjoom.com), these include:
- Nayomi, the leading lingerie brand in the Middle East with over 189 stores;
- Mikyajy, the largest single cosmetics brand in the Middle East with 133 stores;
- Mihyar, a men’s fashion store with 43 stores in Saudi Arabia;
- Nayomi Beauty Salon, to compliment the lingerie brand, with 11 branches in the UAE;
- Nayomi Moda, a compliment of the Nayomi brand;
- TBS, the largest franchise in the Middle East and second-largest in Europe with over 125 stores;
- Early Learning Center, the largest global franchise with over 182 stores;
- Toy School, offering a range of products under the “Toy School” banner;
- Neal’s Yard Remedies, a natural remedies organic beauty brand from the UK with nine stores;
- KOJ Interiors, providing design and turnkey solutions;
- Lego, the number 1 toy brand in the world;
- Subway, world-famous food and beverage brand; and
- Nayomi Dream, to compliment the Nayomi Brand, a brand that mothers and daughters can always trust for “close to body” wear.
As reported in RetailMe, Mr. Kamal has under his name a turnover in excess of SAR 1 billion, 700 stores, and 4,000 professionals working across continents.
Guideposts for Others
There are many considerations for any business venture. But for Mr. Kamal, there are a few points to keep in mind. First is to make a great product; that is, a product that fills the gap in the market and a product that is of quality. Second is to price the product correctly; if needed, the product can undergo re-engineering to appeal to more cost-effective consumers. Third is to serve the customer with respect, listen, and provide for their needs. And last is to communicate the image or the identity of the brand to make it more resonant to the consumers.
"The best thing a brand can be is a friend to its loyal customers," Mr. Kamal shared.
There are many ways to go about and reach success. Although everyone has his/her unique path, tracing the steps of those that came before us and learning from their journey can provide insights on how to direct ours better. The experience of Mr. Kamal is one of these, how he turned private labels into powerhouse brands.