Masala (One of the most awaited and respected Social Awarding Event for the Asian Community in UAE) named Yunib Siddiui The Entrepreneur Of The Year (Male) in 2011. Following that award was his recognition from another Award giving body Gulf Capital SMEinfo Awards, a recognition programme that seeks to honour the top performing small- and medium-sized enterprises whose outstanding business performance and innovations have contributed to the growth and robustness of the UAE economy.
Yunib Siddiqui has not slowed down since those prestigious recognition for his contribution in the country’s bustling economic growth. The UAE CEO of the Australian Food Empire Jones the Grocer has multiple outlets to date in UAE’s two main cities and his rapid success story has become an inspiration for those who may want to put up a business of their own in the land of the Emirates.
How did you start your business? Tell us how the business name came about.
I was running a business in London that was going through a difficult phase after many years of strong growth. It was in a completely different sector. I stumbled across jones the grocer when I read about it in an article in Wallpaper magazine. I connected with the owner in Australia and the rest is history. The name is connected to the original founder (who is no longer in the business).
Why did you decide to go into this line of business in the UAE?
Felt there was an opportunity and after numerous visits here and studying the market for the gourmet/café segment. This was in 2008.
What were the highs and lows of setting up your business?
Lows: Hoops I had to jump to get finance & circumvent local bureaucracy.
Highs: Reception to the brand. Good team work that drives the business.
What was your best day at work?
Tough one to answer but I guess it was when we our first best restaurant award in 2009.
What was your worst day at work?
I wouldn’t say any day worse than another. Most of the time lots of little things make up a bad day and most of the time they are HR issues or local bureaucracy that bog me down.
How did you manage to fund or finance your business?
Through friends, family as well as a fund.
Who has been your greatest influence in setting up this venture?
I am not sure. I would say it was all in my head.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs when setting up their businesses?
Stay focused and believe in what you are doing. If you don’t believe in it you’ll have trouble convincing staff, investors and even customers.
Describe any amusing or strange experiences, or interesting moments, took place while establishing or running your business.
There have been many but I guess the most interesting moment was when Hillary Clinton came to lunch at our store.
Describe any challenges you experienced and how you overcame them.
Staffing has been the biggest challenge. Getting the right people to fit the brand and then train. We have worked hard to get around this by developing our mission, vision and values that govern all aspects of our business, including hiring and the culture of our business.
Outline the reasons why your business succeeded and any particular factors that influenced your success.
First and foremost luck does play a part. However, small that portion is. That aside the other most important factor is the ability to stay the course. Continue to listen to people but don’t veer dramatically away from your vision. Look to fine tune but don’t dramatically alter your original vision.
Did you ever think you will be what you are today?
Outline your future plans for your business.
We do plan to grow the brand in the region but there are issues that need to be resolved with the franchisor prior to this happening.
Outline any important lessons you learned along the way or ways in which you would have done things differently.
Most important lesson for me is to learn to negotiate hard and don’t give in easily. There are many things, such as lease negotiations, that I would have done better.
Describe the defining moment that made you feel certain that your business is going in the direction you want it to go.
When I saw our financials for December 2013.
Explain why you set up your business in the UAE.
There was a category opportunity.
Jones The Grocer
LinkedIn: Cristina Magallon
Company Page: UAE DNA