Perhaps the phenomenon that best indicates Bangladesh’s rapid development over the year is the rise in consumerism. The consumer culture is more evident in Bangladesh than ever before and the super shops have been spearheading this movement. One of the biggest success stories of the realms of super shops is that of Unimart. Catering to the growing demands of consumers while connecting them to various global brands, Unimart has been nothing but a game changer and one of the most buzzing places in Dhaka. A huge reason behind Unimart’s success is the dedication of the individuals who run the show from behind the scene and ICE Today got the opportunity to speak to THE individual who continues to lead Unimart to newer heights, Murtoza Zaman, Chief Executive Officer of Unimart.

One would expect the CEO of Unimart to be an intimidating presence and to be honest, I was a fair bit nervous before our tete-a-tete but when I walked in, I was greeted with the warmest of smiles from an individual with an exceptionally lively face. The first thing I noticed was Murtoza’s mild mannerism and humble nature but as soon as our conversation picked up, the elaborate way he spoke to me made me realise why he became the CEO of Unimart from its COO within months. Murtoza explained to me how his journey has been an ideological one. Having started out as a banker, he worked with HSBC for 12 years but his heart wasn’t really into banking and Murtoza wanted to move away from it for ideological reason. So, he started looking for new opportunities and stumbled upon the retail industry. “The global retail business is one that changes rapidly so I had to learn things really fast. The nuances of this particular business is very different to that of banking but ultimately, it was the learning process which helped my job.”, he explained. So basically, not having any experience in the retail business is what ultimately helped Murtoza to excel at his job. “I went with my instincts and looked at the business from the customer’s point of view, you know, what they would they want and how would they react to products”, he stated. This actually helped Murtoza to quickly grasp the business. You could feel the genuine enthusiasm in his voice as he explained his two-and-a-half-year journey with Unimart. Obviously transitioning from COO to CEO means that Murtoza has more responsibilities now but he also has more mobility in wanting to explore new ventures. “Yes, CEO is a challenging position but it also gives me the scope of broadening my horizon and discovering new prospects”, he stated.

Unimart is all set to celebrate its fifth birthday this July, over the last couple of years it has introduced us to global brands which most people had only seen on television before. Although there are various entrepreneur with similar ventures are trying to do the same but the thing that sets Unimart apart is its credibility. Murtoza elaborates, “Being part of United group is a huge advantage, people already know about us so their curiosity to try new things is backed by encouragement because of the credibility that United group has already established.” But challenges are in abundance in this territory even with the credibility. Murtoza did not hesitate for a second in admitting that even a superstore like Unimart have its fair share of struggles. He explains that the retail sector faces very little support from the government and how there is no proper board to assess standards. “Most of our items have approval from international standard board yet we have to hesitate whenever we want to introduce something new to the market”, he regretfully informs us. Another major problem lies in the mindset of society who prefer cheaper products to good quality ones. Murtoza believes that we need to pitch the concept of quality products to people. It is a social commitment and more people need to be encouraged to focus on the right price. Although social media has helped change peoples’ mindset to some extent as evident by growing preference in olive oil and healthier products, we still have room for improvement.Despite of these challenges, Murtoza and his team continues to excel. He explained how Unimart has a dedicated R&D and they maintain a healthy relationship with their suppliers. In Unimart, quality comes first and aside from external factors, Murtoza does his best to ensure that there is no complacency in this department. Since we were on the subject of food, our conversation slowly moved on to Indulge, Unimart’s own restaurant and that is when Murtoza proved that he meant it when he said that he always thinks from a consumer’s point of view. Murtoza got really ecstatic when he started talking about “Chef’s Table”, Unimart’s newest venture which originates from Indulge. It will feature 25 stalls of the country’s hottest food joints as well as a few international ones. Comprised of 27,000 sqft filled with good food, great ambience, a kid’s corner, a private dining space and ample car parking, Chef’s table will revolutionise the culinary experience of Dhaka and Murtoza takes immense pride and joy in the fact that it is Unimart who is introducing this venture.

Our conversation concluded here and as Murtoza proceeded to accompany me out of his office, he held the door open for me which made me understand that Unimart’s excellence originates from the excellence of its CEO. A leader and a true gentleman.

Irfan Aziz is a Sub Editor of ICE Today magazine. He is a pug enthusiast who loves looking at memes, writing and sketching.