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

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 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...

Make your business count with social media: part 2

We've seen many brands set up a Facebook page/Twitter profile to help promote and manage their company's activity, however there's only a few brands who are truly integrating their social media activity into their marketing strategy. Just like any other form of business communication, it's important that social media content is relevant to its intended audience.

Relevancy is most likely to be achieved when your social media followers are supporters of your brand., These are the people who have experienced your product, or service, and can do justice to the overall engagement of the brand. However, many brands still fail to understand this aspect of social media.

5357611518_82685c2773.jpgHere's how companies can improve the relevancy of their social media output:

  • Never run ad-hoc contests where there is no offline and online integration
  • Never give away prizes and rewards for free
  • Always use clear tracking tools such as Google Analytics and Click Analytics or rather use a campaign monitoring tool
  • Always use third-party applications to run campaigns
  • Always keep track of you audience on Facebook/Twitter and try to relate to your target audience
  • Always keep a check on your demographics. Usually, followers from distant countries where your business doesn't operate won't be following you on Facebook/Twitter. However, there are some exceptions.

Another way of achieving relevancy is to integrate your social communication within your print communications, website, emails and offline touch-points. Social media can be integrated into your company's in-store communications, at reception, within restaurants and hotel rooms, and even on your organisation's email signatures.

How you communicate your social media presence is equally important. Whenever, you mention your brand's Facebook or Twitter presence, don't just say "follow us on Twiiter" or "join us on Facebook". These statements never communicate the end objective of the brand to the consumer.  In fact, messages like "to know more about fashion tips & trends: participate on Facebook: (Link goes in) or share your queries with us on Twitter @brandname are much more effective.

Always make it as easy as possible for your customers to follow or engage with your brand. Make your social media channels easy to join and promote them in the right places. Properly promoting your social media output will help you achieve your end objective and generate a relative return on investment (ROI).

A little yoga beats a lot of stress

Pic_1.jpgDeadlines, bottom lines, budget cuts and creative ruts: stress in the workplace is a modern-day inevitability familiar to us all. Office life is faster, longer, harder and more demanding than ever before - and invariably, the loser in all of this is our health, wellbeing and peace of mind. Signs of chronic stress can be physical (fatigue, headaches, perspiration, insomnia, frequent illness), psychosocial (irritability, mood swings, apathy, depression, slowed thinking or racing thoughts) and behavioral (impatience, quickness to argue, increased use of alcohol/drugs, poor job performance), all of which can lead to more serious problems.

Here at Landmark Group we have our fair share of workplace stress; it's unavoidable. Thankfully, our holistic health experts at Balance 360 tell us there are sustainable alternatives to managing it, and one of the top things they recommend is yoga.

Yoga is an effective method of reducing stress, decreasing anxiety and improving physical health. It also helps to improve concentration and allows us to cope better with the demands of our daily lives, giving us a better perspective on personal and professional issues. A regular yoga practice boosts immunity and energy levels, reduces the likelihood of need for sick leave and makes us calmer, healthier, more positive and more productive.

Sounds fantastic, right? But putting theory into practice is usually the tricky bit, so here are some practical tips on how to incorporate yoga into your everyday life.

  • Just 60 minutes a week is enough. You don't have to change your entire lifestyle to get healthy - even one hour of yoga a week has been shown to be effective in managing stress, fatigue and chronic illness. It's okay to start small, but start.

  • Get a yoga buddy. Sign up for a class with a friend or colleague from work - it's more fun to do it together, and you're less likely to skip class.

  • Find a class close to work or home. That way, traffic, travel time and inconvenience are less viable excuses to not go to class.

  • Take yoga 'micro-breaks' at work. Ask your instructor for simple yoga exercises you can do on your own, and take mini-breaks from your computer or in between meetings to do them.

  • Ask about employee wellness programmes at your workplace. Fi_VE_8875.JPGnd out whether your company has a link with a local gym or wellness centre that offers yoga classes.

  • 'Trade up' activities. Don't think of yoga as 'yet another activity' to add to your already-packed schedule. Substitute part of an existing activity you can do less of (e.g. watching TV, poking friends on Facebook) with something you'd like more of (e.g. yoga).

  • Get your family involved. If your days off are reserved for time with your family, why not sign up for a yoga class together? Look for child-friendly yoga classes if you have kids - it's a productive way to spend time together and encourage preventive-health habits in your kids.

  • Shop around for a yoga class you enjoy. You're more likely to stick with a yoga class that's enjoyable. Instructors and class styles vary - try out a few and you're sure to find something that's fun for you.

Whichever way you do it, make yoga a regular part of your week. It's a great way to reduce stress levels, both in the office and outside of it.

Landmark Group Employee Stories part 2: Starting small, making it big

The Landmark Group started off as the big idea of a single person. Today, we're among the largest employers in the Middle East and Landmark is regarded as one of the best places to work in the region. But don't just take our word for it - watch the video and see what some of our 35,000 employees have to say about the Group. Because without them, we'd still be just another big idea.

Putting the 'care' back into healthcare

Icare_01.jpgGetting sick is bad enough, but getting sick and having to find a trustworthy doctor, at an accessible, caring medical facility, is worse.

Today's lifestyle comes loaded with a number of medical challenges arising from poor eating habits, long working hours and high stress levels. Meeting these challenges is not just about dispensing medication, but understanding and empathizing with patients, just like a traditional family doctor would.

Realizing this, we at Landmark Group launched iCARE Clinics to promote individualized quality healthcare in the UAE. iCARE Clinics is a one-stop family care centre catering to all primary healthcare needs in a friendly, warm environment. Our team of doctors, nurses and technicians provide easy-access medical expertise 365 days a year in areas including paediatrics, obstetrics/gynaecology, internal medicine, dentistry, radiology, pathology and family medicine, as well as general practitioner (GP) services.

Icare_02.jpgIt's always been our philosophy to provide exceptional value to our customers, and this venture proudly upholds that standard. We opened our first clinic recently in Dubai at the Oasis Centre mall on Sheikh Zayed Road, followed by a second clinic in Discovery Gardens. Over the next 2-3 years, we plan to establish twenty iCARE Clinics across the UAE.

Nothing is more important than your family's well-being, and we're here to support it. Here's to your good health!

Landmark Group Employee Stories, part 1: "The road to riches"

Raza Beig was a regular college graduate with no special degrees or fancy qualifications.

A chance newspaper advertisement during a difficult personal time, a meeting with Landmark Group CEO Micky Jagtiani and some inspiration from Mother Teresa - along with dogged determination and hard work - saw him rise to become CEO of Splash and ICONIC, two of the Middle East's most illustrious fashion brands.

An incredible walk from store room to board room was the path for Manu Jeswani, now CEO of successful footwear brands Shoe Mart, Shoexpress and Shoe Mart International. His ability to listen to opportunity when it knocked, along with priceless insights from Mr Jagtiani, put him on the fast track to success, a journey he still finds unbelievable, even today.

These are just two of the many passionate people at the heart of Landmark Group. Watch their inspiring stories in the video below:

Landmark Group raises over AED 710,000 to beat juvenile diabetes

LFC_logo_IDF.jpgIn keeping with our commitment to spreading diabetes awareness, in May of this year we launched a month-long fundraising initiative in support of the International Diabetes Federation's "Life for a Child" (LFAC) programme, in the UAE. We're pleased to announce that, with all your support and the hard work of Landmark Group's retail staff, we managed to raise over AED 710,000 - far surpassing our goal of AED 500,000.

Landmark Group's outlets across the UAE invited customers to donate as little as AED 5. This small amount can help support the entire spectrum of diabetes management for an underprivileged child for a day, including medication, tests and diabetes education.

Road 29.jpgAlthough each brand and store had a considerable impact on the success of the campaign, the Centrepoint store in Bawadi, and the Babyshop store in Korfakkan, stood out as the top performing outlets. Centrepoint Bawadi raised the most funds, while Babyshop Korfakkan had the highest customer-to-donation conversion rate.

Congratulations and sincere thanks are in order as we continue in solidarity to do our part for an issue that's close to our hearts.

A breath of fresh air - the art of holistic breathing

dreamstime_l_15740593.jpgAs humans, we can survive for short periods of time without food and water, but breathing is a must-do function for all of us if we want to continue living.

We may all breathe, but do we breathe well? Take a few seconds to observe your natural breathing pattern. Do you breathe through your nose? Is your breath deep, slow and long?
Do you inhale and expand your chest and abdomen? For most of us, the answer is probably "no".

From a yogic point of view, breathing correctly is of supreme importance. Doing so helps us lead a life virtually free of stress and disease. The benefits of good breathing include:

  • Adequately supplying oxygen to vital organs, which is essential for the efficient functioning of the brain, nerves, glands and internal organs. An improper supply of oxygen causes, degeneration of vital organs, mental sluggishness, negative thoughts and depression, and eventually affects vision and hearing.

  • Naturally expelling waste products and toxins from our body.

  • Rejuvenating the skin and preventing premature ageing.

  • Improving lung capacity, thereby relieving respiratory problems.

  • Producing internal heat through specific yogic breathing exercises to increase metabolism, improve digestive function and burn fat.

  • Cooling the body with other yogic breathing techniques to maintain body temperature during summer.

  • Preventing the entry of pathogens and dust into our respiratory passages by breathing through the nose.

shutterstock_27366433.jpgBreathing correctly when we exercise is especially important. At the gym, in an aerobics class or while walking or running, our attention is usually on the music, TV or our instructor, but not on our breath. Although there are many benefits of exercising like this, in the long run we might be depriving our muscles and organs of the extra oxygen they need, leading to reduced lung capacity, lethargy and muscle spasms. In yoga, great emphasis is placed on maintaining the postures with correct breathing. This allows your body and mind to relax and stretch to the maximum without feeling as tired.

Try turning your attention to breathing better in your daily life and when you exercise - you might be pleasantly surprised by the results. Breath is life, and good breath is good life.