This is the official blog of the Landmark Group with insights
and stories from the people behind our many brands.

Max Burgers: The Sweet Taste of Success

Max is on the move! Max's burgers, a long-time favorite in Sweden and Scandinavia, has partnered with the Landmark Group to launch new ventures in the UAE. We have already opened outlets in Jumeirah 3, on Jumeirah Beach Road, in Mirdif City Centre and in Oasis Centre. Plans are unfolding for dozens of Max openings throughout the region. The 100% family-owned Max brand, voted "Sweden's Tastiest Burger" for 10 years in a row, is now poised for immediate success in the rapidly expanding GCC market.

Max-Burger (1).pngAt Max's we aim to build upon the 45-year tradition that we have established with our commitment to tasty, healthy and environmentally friendly food service. Founder Curt Bergfors, along with Britta Andersson, opened a single food kiosk in the north of Sweden in 1968. Their great tasting burgers were a hit and the business quickly outgrew the little kiosk. Our growth meant we were soon taking on, and winning against, industry giants such as McDonald's. The 2003 addition of our Delifresh menu, with it's combination of flavorful health-conscious ingredients, ushered in a new chapter of the Max story.

With our Max heritage we literally bring a lot to the table. When customers spot our famous blue-and-white décor they know it signifies something special. Patrons can rely on Max to quickly provide the best-tasting, high-quality and freshly-prepared foods in a clean and wholesome manner. Our partnership with the Landmark Group means we have joined hands with a company whose solid regional foundation and remarkable marketing savvy will allow us to compete with global heritage burger brands in the exciting new Gulf arena.

Max-burger.pngMax is innovative and creative. Throughout our entire brand we zealously pursue our mission to provide the best food in a globally responsible fashion. From our industry-first carbon-dated menu labeling to our enviable 100% carbon-emission offset (achieved with our African tree-planting project), along with our award-winning programs to provide employment to persons with disabilities, we are in the vanguard of conscientious business practice. For all the new customers that the Landmark Group will introduce to us we have prepared an enticing array of menu specialties, starting with our signature Max burgers and including wonderful fresh dips and our superb side dishes that include such healthy items as salads, apple wedges and carrots.

At Max we are confidant that working with the Landmark group will lead to prosperity for all concerned and that we will be able to show the world what it means to have a real Max experience.

Cakes and Candy

Based on a dream, Candy Cakes was created in 2006 to bring something special and innovative to the cafe and cake world.

Spotting a gap in the market, the founders successfully merged the concept of a cake shop with the appearance of a sweet shop. With the clever addition of some irresistible coffee, the storybook cafe retreat was born.

candy-cakes.jpg Fast-forward to today and the company's signature range of colourful, sweet-topped cakes is in high demand. People of all ages just love them, for weddings, social gatherings and everything from eighth, eighteenth or even eightieth birthday parties.

Candy Cakes confections make the sweetest treats for family and friends to share. Complete with eye-popping coloured icing and elaborate edible toppers, these mouth-watering novelty cakes will make a special occasion even sweeter.

The creative team lovingly craft the delicious colourful treats, for all ages to enjoy. Whether you're throwing a party for a budding princess or a pirate in training, a custom-designed birthday cake will add something extra-special to a big day.

The concept is simple: fun, playful, bright products within cafes that reflect Candy Cakes' Pop Art style and sweet shop vision. This unique brand sells fresh coffee, delicious cakes and cool shakes.

Splash: the determined teenager turns 20

Thursday 21st March 2013 was an exciting day for the team at the offices of Splash fashions. It marked the culmination of two decades as one of the Middle East's favourite fashion brands: from its humble birth as a single store way back in 1993, its growth through the difficult early years into adulthood, to its success as a mature business that continues to go from strength to strength.

mikky.jpgThe brand can reflect on an exciting journey to get where it is today. Tickets for the now legendary Splash fashion shows are prized items, as these spectaculars have become one of the "must-attend" events in the Middle East. Add to this three limited edition calendars, campaigns that use new technology such as 3D, an international portfolio of brands like Being Human, Lee Cooper and ELLE, plus numerous awards and industry recognition, well... you get the idea.

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The company has plans for yearlong celebrations to mark their 20th birthday, and the partying began with the annual staff event, held at Rixos, Palm Jumeirah. This was closely followed by Retail Employees Day (R.E.D), an event that recognises and rewards the day-to-day contributions of the people who make the Splash stores run so smoothly. These events were just the beginning of a very busy calendar of festivities to come.

raza-beig.jpgSplash launched the Emblem Design contest earlier this year, aimed at creating a dedicated logo to mark the 20-year anniversary. The response was overwhelming, and the winner can proudly see the chosen design featured on the brand's collateral for the coming year. Other competitions and contests are planned that engage customers and get them involved with the company's celebrations.

When the first Splash store opened its doors to the public in Sharjah over two decades ago, who could have dreamed the company would grow into the Superbrand it is today? Some may consider the story complete, but for CEO Raza Beig and the team, this is just the beginning.

Balance Wellness Spa connects with ladies night

The Balance Wellness Spa recently reached out to a key target audience by hosting a ladies night that also involved forming partnerships for the event - which was a real success.

IMG_6264.JPGThe spa, located in Dubai's Oasis Centre, held the get-together along with ila, a British firm that makes all-natural skincare products, and Scene, a magazine with celebrity news and photos, and news about entertainment, shopping and style.

Balance Wellness Spa, which covers 22,000 sq. ft., and has 21 therapy rooms, offers 65 therapies that include techniques from all over the world. The spa also provides customised Pilates and yoga sessions.

Selected Scene readers were invited to join us at the facility for a pampering party featuring the spa's treatments and Ila's products to try, with the magazine providing promotion, photography and media coverage.

The ladies began the night with a refreshing cold towel and a soothing cup of herbal tea to immerse themselves in the spa's relaxing atmosphere. Our guests were also offered a foot massage, which used Ila Body Balm and generated plenty of positive feedback from our guests.
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The lucky ladies, who enjoyed healthy snacks and beverages from Balance Cafe, also received a goodie bag with a copy of Scene, a sample from Ila, an AED 100 spa voucher and more.

Everyone who came out for the event clearly had a great time, and a number of people booked treatments at the spa.

Working with Ila and Scene and creating this event presented an opportunity to connect with the target audience in a way that was fun for the ladies and productive for the Balance Wellness Spa.

What unconventional techniques do you use to reach your target audience?

Home Centre website for our Arabic-speaking customers

Back in October 2011 we announced the launch of our Home Centre website, which was launched in 9 countries: UAE, India, Bahrain, Qatar, Egypt, Jordan, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. The site gives customers access to a variety of Home Centre products across many different product categories: furniture, bed and bath, home décor, kitchen and tabletop, and kids furniture. It has been a long journey, but we have evolved since then and become bigger and better for the experience.

arb_homepage.jpgThe site has some great features and gives customers the opportunity to view our catalogue while relaxing at home and, if they like a product, our store locator will spotlight the nearest outlet for them to visit. We also keep customers up-to-date with our new House Proud blog - a go-to place for affordable tips, trends and inspiration to keep your home beautiful, tidy and safe. It also features our latest offers and promotions.

The past year has been busy, encouraging and quite a learning experience for all of us at Home Centre. We've been working harder every day to cater to our Arabic customers - October 2012 saw the launch of our Home Centre website in Arabic.

Make your business count with social media: part 3

Integrating-Social-Media-Monitoring.pngThe social media age provides plenty of new, fast ways for companies to communicate with people - and for people to communicate with businesses. Technology and tendencies are evolving swiftly, but if we know one thing, it's that people the world over are quick to share questions, compliments and complaints directly to companies or publicly.

If your brand does not engage on social platforms, customers can and will dig up your blog or website, or go on public forums to share what's on their minds. Whatever path customers choose and whatever they have to say, they expect responses, too.

So how do we tackle this new reality and use these powerful forms of communication to our advantage? Tools like Hootsuite, Sprout Social and even Zendesk make our lives easier by tracking conversations between companies and customers. Zendesk goes one step further: it also converts every tweet, Facebook post and message sent via companies' websites and online-chat functions into tickets, so companies can manage them with ease.

That power makes it simple to respond quickly to comments and spot trends that might develop, and it's hard to overstate how important that is. Businesses want to know what people like and they need to know what people don't.

In short, it may seem like there are countless messages from all sorts of sources, but it's simple to manage social-media communication - which is at its essence, the critical ability to understand and interact with customers. That's an essential step forward - and rest assured your competitors are working aggressively in this realm - and it can also reduce costs for PR, customer service and even advertising.

There are things to learn, fast-flowing streams of communication to manage and no doubt some surprises to come in terms of technology and what customers will say and do, but the need to communicate and the prospects to prosper from it are too important to ignore.

Emax reloaded - web design made simple

Today, the Web Team is proud to announce the launch of Emaxme.com, the new-look website that showcases the current range of Emax products and services. This is the first of an exciting line-up of digital initiatives planned for the coming year, aimed at simplifying electronics for customers.

Emax_website.pngThe redesign demonstrates the team's commitment to delivering great looking websites, developed with the customer in mind. We've replaced technical jargon with simple language, as part of our commitment to make the complex world of consumer electronics easier to understand. And the new look features carefully selected high-resolution images of the products currently available in the stores.

As well as being visually appealing and easy to use, the new site also contains some helpful features to enhance the shopping experience for Emax customers: buying guides to help visitors compare and select the most suitable products, a store locator to pinpoint nearby branches, and information on the latest offers and promotions. These are simple steps towards building sustainable long-term customer relationships.

The social media revolution, which continues to influence how people interact, has elevated the importance of good customer relations to an unprecedented high. In recognition of this, popular social media platforms - such as Facebook - have been integrated into the site to enable greater connectivity with fans and followers. Customers can now share specific Emaxme.com content with their own networks, extending the site's reach into the region's online communities.

But the company's online activities don't stop there. Customers in the UAE will soon be able to purchase Emax products online via Landmark Group's upcoming e-commerce website. This game-changing "e-tail" store, the Web Team's flagship project, is coming soon to a screen near you.  

It's been an exciting few years for Emax: the company has achieved significant growth, received numerous awards for industry, opened several new stores in the region with plans to further expand operations into other countries. With the company increasingly focused on harnessing the digital aspects of its market presence, the future looks ever brighter.

Reiss connects with art

03_AW12_MAINLINE_WOMENS_C_HIRES.jpgReiss, a sophisticated apparel concept that's part of Landmark International, is carving through the clutter of ads, tweets and Facebook updates to engage with communities through an age-old approach - art.

The concept, which has 12 stores across the Middle East, is merging the season's high-end trends with creations by several painters, graphic designers, architects, photographers and sculptors. Each person was given an item from the Reiss Autumn/Winter 12 collection and two weeks to create a piece of art. Their work will form a show, The Art of Fashion, which debuts on 2nd October at the ProArt Gallery in Dubai, along with the collection, before it travels to Reiss stores throughout the UAE.

Commenting on the creative partnership, Miles Young, chief operating officer of Landmark International, pointed out that the Reiss line reflects an artistic approach to fashion, with collections "consisting of rich colour palates, touchable textures and beautifully tailored pieces signifying the incredibly high standard that both Reiss and ProArt Gallery strive for"

The line-up of artists includes Gwenael Salaun, a painter who uses exuberant colours; Andre C. Meyerhans, an architect who designed the Garhoud Bridge in Dubai; Saif Chilmiran, a street artist with a playful, pop-art style; and Gerard Paire, a photographer and painter who focuses on abstract works with bold shades and tones.

The show will be on display until 14th October at the Gallery, which is located in the Palm Strip Mall on Dubai's Jumeirah Beach Road.

What are the best ways to connect with customers in a social-media age? Let us know.

Right on cue: our new Q Home Decor website

Qhomedecor blog post copy.pngIt's been six months since I joined the Landmark Web Team to manage and various concepts sites and what a journey it's been. I'm proud to share with you my third website, Q Home Décor.

Q Home Décor, established five years ago, has nine stores throughout the Middle East. The brand prides itself on selling affordable luxury furnishings that are handpicked from around the globe.

Our focus was on recreating the fresh, appealing experience of shopping at Q Home Décor, which we captured in the Collections section. Which are based on the Classic, Eclectic and Modern room settings, and all are prominent in the stores' showrooms.

To reflect the look of those settings, we were particularly determined to have excellent photos; we collaborated with the Q Home Décor photographer Bless Parreno, and Paula Evans, a buyer who styled the Collections room settings. Their work brings the site to life.

To make the site as useful as it is attractive, we added a new interactive feature known as hotspots, which lets visitors click on products to get more information about them.
Visitors who have a clearer idea of what they want, or seek more information about what specific items are available, can visit the All Products section, which is searchable and provides a wealth of details.

We started work on creating the site and selecting its features after an immersion session to gain a greater understanding of Q Home Décor and its target audience. We met Luke Rolfe and Pallavi Bhargavai from the Operations and Marketing teams, who gave our design and development partners and us an in-depth tour of the store and told us more about the brand.

With their help and the assistance from people throughout the Web Team, we created a site that showcases Q Home Décor and what's made it successful.

So, please take a look at www.qhomedecor.com. I hope you too will find it engaging and inspiring enough to make your space your own.

Yoga - a natural way to lower your blood pressure

shutterstock_24695020.jpgYoga is quickly becoming the go-to method for resolving a number of contemporary health problems. While yoga reduces situational blood pressure, it may also reduce ongoing hypertension or high blood pressure, which occurs when pressure inside blood vessels is higher than normal expected values for age and gender.

When adopted as a way of life, yoga has a lot to offer those suffering from this silent killer. People who commit to a regular practice of yogic breathing exercises, asanas and meditation, will soon experience improved bodily strength and flexibility, mental and physical relaxation and greatly reduced stress reactions such as muscular tension, rapid heart rate, constricted breathing and anxiety.

There are a few probable mechanisms by which yoga works to keep hypertension at bay:

  • Chronic stress causes sustained muscular contraction, which reduces the width of blood dreamstime_xs_22221673.jpgvessels inside the muscles. Just like compressing a water pipe increases the force with which water flows through it, a reduction in blood vessel width increases blood pressure within. The sustained stretching and relaxation of muscles through yogic exercises reverses this effect.

  • Conditions of extreme excitement or tension activate the body's "fight or flight" response, which in turn increases blood pressure. This response is evolutionarily useful for genuine emergency situations, but unfortunately the urgency of modern-day living tends to over-trigger this response. Yoga helps to manage it by controlling adrenaline levels, thus reducing blood pressure.

  • Regular yoga practice may also reduce the stress hormones aldosterone and vasopressin, both of which contract blood vessels and thus increase blood pressure.

Emerging research continues to show the many positive benefits of yoga. Although other sporting and wellness activities also help reduce stress, few adopt an holistic approach that can be done safely every day like yoga. Try it and see for yourself!

Has yoga helped to reduce your high blood pressure and improve your overall health? Tell us your story here...