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

My tribute to Steve

Apple---Jonathan-Mak.png I've never written a tribute before, mainly because I've never felt the need to. But after yesterday's dent in the universe, the void that remains is so large, so global and ironically so personal that it calls for a little reflection. 

It's the day after and I'm still devastated. I'm still trying to wrap my head around the fact that we just lost the most brilliant, creative, passionate leader, visionary, technologist and entrepreneur of our generation and a guiding star for tech and web geeks like me. 

I'm never going to forget yesterday when I woke up in the morning at around 7:30am, grabbed my iPhone 4 to check the latest on tech in Twitter and saw a combination of texts and messages from friends confirming the news and sending condolences. I knew what happened but it hadn't properly registered as yet. I woke, went to the living room, sat on my sofa and started flipping through the bevy of news apps and tech blogs on my phone. The coverage was breaking news everywhere. I then watched the embedded video footage from the BBC app and that was it. The sucker punch was delivered and it knocked the wind out of me. 

I broke down.

I knew this was inevitable, but I couldn't believe he was gone. I switched on the TV and watched CNN's bits on Steve's legacy. I went to work after that but felt lower than a worm's bellybutton for the rest of the day. 

The world losing Steve is like Potter fans losing Dumbledore - The apex wizard with magic so powerful you didn't even know that stuff was possible, the guy who's always ten steps ahead of the game and who you could rely on to save the day. 

No more. 

I wouldn't have a career if it wasn't for Steve and Apple. I wouldn't care about the user experience, usability, user-interface design and building better web products as much if I hadn't been blown away by the quality of their hardware and software that they've been churning out consistently for over a decade. My previous employer Cleartrip, where I spent close to 3 fantastic years before joining Landmark in 2009, wouldn't have existed if it wasn't for Steve and Apple and they said so themselves on their blog and Twitter accounts. 

So Steve, like I said in my Facebook and Twitter statuses yesterday, thank you for everything - the inspiration, the career, the products, the quality, the experience, the bragging rights, the fun...everything. If I can achieve a fraction of what you have in my lifetime, I would have justified my time on this rock. 

It's been a privilege to live in your world.

Savitar

Sent from my iPad

Landmark celebrates its 1000th outlet

landmark1000stores_final.jpgI still remember the time when we just had one Babyshop outlet in Bahrain. Today, as we celebrate the opening of 1000 outlets, I am filled with utmost pride and optimism to surpass many more milestones in the future.

Our phased expansions into different countries have kept the momentum of the organization growing. Today, the Landmark Group has a thriving, extensive network of outlets that boasts rising numbers of footfalls every year.

As part of our growth strategy we've been investing heavily in structured diversifications into sectors including health, food, clothing and malls - all of which are performing extremely well.

Reach out, give back

With the Landmark Group's reach extending across 15 countries, we have been lucky enough to give back to society through charitable projects like the 'Beat Diabetes' campaign and other environmental conservation, community building and empowerment campaigns.

The common thread that binds together all our diverse brands is the Group's mission to deliver great quality products at exceptional value for money. Our concepts across retail and hospitality segments compliment each other nicely catering to people from diverse backgrounds.

Listen, adapt, deliver

The cornerstone of our philosophy is to listen, adapt and deliver exceptional value. What sets us apart is a strong and dynamic culture of working towards this common goal which is understood and enthusiastically shared by the entire workforce of over 35,000 employees. This is truly an encouraging sign for the future of this company.

I would like to take this occasion to extend my heartfelt gratitude to all our customers, the wonderful people who work here and everyone else involved in creating the empire that is the Landmark Group.

Have you had an exceptional experience with the Landmark Group? We'd love to hear from you!

Introducing Candelite!: a sweet new concept by the Landmark Group

Store Full length Shot_FB.jpgWe're proud to introduce the latest feather in the Landmark Group cap: Candelite!, a sweet new concept offering world-class confectionery and savoury snacks.

Candelite! caters to an eclectic, multicultural customer base that spans all age groups. With over 2000 products and 100 brands (including several international brands we stock exclusively), there's something to delight everyone. Our spacious, colourful stores are a visual treat for children and adults alike: we've noticed a distinct slowing of pace and turning of head by nearly everyone who walks past a Candelite! store.

To create an intuitive, fun candy-shopping experience, we've chosen to divide the store into 8 distinct sections:

  • Kiddy Delights offers a range of lollipops, jellypops, chocopops,  pick-n-mix candies, hard candies, marshmallows, jelly beans, novelty cookies and various character candies and chocolates for kids.

  • Funky Treats is a hotspot for teenagers offering rock candies, flavoured mints packed in funky boxes and a wide range of sour treats

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  • Classic Delights stocks all-time adult favourites including chocolate bars, truffles, fudges, caramels, flavoured candy sticks to spice up hot beverages and ice creams, pick-n-mix chocolate-coated nuts and fruit and an extensive range of dark chocolates in unique flavours including chilli and pepper.
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  • Our No-Guilt Options include sugar-free, low-calorie, all-natural, organic and vegetarian products of the highest quality.

  • The Snackin' Around section serves up delicious savoury snack items, all kinds of salted nuts, cocktail mixes, pretzels, biscuits, wafers and cookies.

  • The Gourmet Room showcases high-end brands such as 'Rococo' (chocolates from the UK),  'Divan' (gourmet Turkish Delight), 'Al Nassma' (UAE's very own camel milk chocolate) and more.

  • At Gifts Galore you'll find souvenir t- shirts, soft toys, candles and accessories, and a wide range of gift baskets. We also offer customized gifting solution to suit every budget and special occasion.

  • A Chill-Out Zone dishes out handmade Italian gelato sticks and scoops made with fresh cream in natural fruit sorbet and sugar-free options, sumptuous cupcakes, freshly-made cotton candy and the orignal 'Slush Puppie'
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Whether you're in the mood for a quick snack or an indulgent treat, Candelite! is the one-stop shop to satisfy your craving. What better way to make life sweeter?

What's your favourite kind of sweet treat? Share it with us here...

Get up and go: quick-fix travel refreshes body & soul

Travel can be sublimely refreshing for the busy professional, and it needn't come in the form of long, expensive or international trips. Discovering a new place - even if it happens to be in your own back yard - is a sure-fire way to recharge both body and soul. During a recent short trip to Ananda Spa (rated the world's best) in the Indian Himalayas, I spent a blissful few days experiencing the serene majesty of the mountains, which compelled me to look inwards in quiet reflection. Even a hectic string of work meetings right after couldn't steal the peace I'd found.
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Quick Fix
I make it a point to fit regular "quick fix" travel refreshers into my packed schedule. A two-day getaway to London's countryside, a side trip to Marseilles or Belgium, a long weekend in the French Riviera are instant recipes for an inner recharge. Even touristy activities are energizing: whale watching in Boston, visiting the Statue of Liberty in New York, meandering through the Louvre in Paris. And to combine a little business with pleasure, I check out current trends in the retail industry wherever I go (Selfridges has the most amazing store window displays). On my wish-list of places to visit next: Vietnam, Australia and South America, particularly Machu Picchu.

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Solo & Easy
Solo travel is a must-try for anyone, at least once. I'm addicted (one fine day my husband's going to up and leave me!) - it allows me the personal space and time so vital to my well-being. Travelling light allows me to get up and go at a moment's notice, and, though strictly vegetarian, I'm not fussy about food - a simple sandwich while exploring rural Britain, fresh croissants in France, a Margherita pizza almost anywhere if uncertain about the cuisine or language.

Unforgettable Memories
I don't hoard souvenirs (except for the occasional fridge magnet) or even take many photos - after a major hard-drive crash a few years ago, I realized how transient life is and became peacefully detached from collecting memorabilia. So what stays with me at the end of a trip? The memory of an experience that's all my own, the feeling of getting to know myself better through a new place. Bhuvana_trip_3_resized.jpg
Top Travel Things

1) Blackberry. I no longer carry a laptop, iPad, or anything else. But friends have to remind
    me to leave the BB behind when we go out, or I'll be on it non-stop.
2) iPod. Instrumental lounge music for the mornings, soft melodies in any language through
    the day. 
3) Books. At least two, ranging from business biographies to new-age spirituality. 
4) Wet wipes & hand sanitizer to stay healthy & clean wherever I go.

What do you do to recharge your batteries? Share it with us here...

Better Careers at the Landmark Group

One of the chief mandates of the Landmark Group's Web Team is to keep improving our existing presence on the web. Our latest efforts have been directed at our Careers page, which was in need of an upgrade. The old page, though complete in information, lacked the punch to inspire energetic, talented people to consider working at Landmark.

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We wanted a better, brighter page that reflected the Landmark Group's attractive work environment and the diverse, exciting opportunities it offers. Being such a large company often means being mistaken for a nameless, faceless organization, which we're anything but - so on the new Careers page, we included a candid Q&A section with some of our top executives describing their career paths and their experience at Landmark. 

In order to showcase the people who work at Landmark, we also decided to plump up the page with a video featuring various Landmark Group employees. Have a look for yourself and tell us what you think!


What do you think of Landmark's new Careers page? Share your thoughts with us here...

Growth 1: The value of internal knowledge-sharing sessions

As a multinational conglomerate spanning various industries, the Landmark Group encourages certain key values across all its many brands. One of these - and the focus of this series - is growth.

At corporate HR, we see growth as a direct function of knowledge and experience. The beauty of such a large organization is the abundance of knowledge and experience that individual members of our diverse family bring from elsewhere or develops on the job. To best leverage these dynamic learnings - and bring people from across Landmark together to help each other - we've developed a monthly internal knowledge-sharing session we call, simply, Growth.
Instead of applying the traditional top-down management approach, we find greater value in an entrepreneurship-based model of business. The idea behind the Growth series is to identify new ideas and innovative processes developed within brands, and to share these best practices across the organization. Learning from each other's experience helps us build a strong central knowledge storehouse, enabling us to replicate success from one pocket of excellence in another.
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Says organizational learning guru Peter Senge: "Sharing knowledge is not about giving people something, or getting something from them. That is only valid for information sharing. Sharing knowledge occurs when people are genuinely interested in helping one another develop new capacities for action; it is about creating learning processes".

In the coming months, we'll be sharing:

- an initiative to identify middle
  managers by our fashion retail concept
  Splash

- a practice to increase retention rates
  of new employees by our kids'
  entertainment concept Fun City

- a morale-boosting motivational
  programme by our footwear concept
  Shoe Mart

- ... and many more.

Stay tuned! Does your company encourage internal knowledge sharing? Tell us your experience here...

Follow your art: choosing your career with passion

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Painting has always been my passion. I had sketched and doodled informally since I was a child, so when it came to choosing a Saturday hobby (required by my school in Mumbai), my art teacher - renowned Indian painter R S Nikumbh (portrayed by Aamir Khan in the film 'Taare Zamin Par') - suggested I choose art.

Though I was just 11 years old at the time, he paid special attention to honing my talent. I excelled academically, though, so, as the son of a traditional Gujarati family, becoming a full-time painter was never a serious consideration, and instead I followed a more conventional career path.

Keeping the art alive
Decades later, as the CIO of the Landmark Group and a family man, there is little time to pursue my passion. But the painter in me is still alive, and, as a classic Virgo (an emotional perfectionist), I find ways to express myself: I insist that tables and charts be coloured and laid out just so, sketch presenters or admire hotel lobby art during long conferences, and would rather be outside in nature drawing trees or plants than socialising at a cocktail party. And I've recently dedicated my Saturdays to painting again - I'm currently working on a portrait of my daughter, who's persuaded me to restart my art.

Leap of faith
At the age of 50, I often wonder about enrolling in an art college and fulfilling my dream. But the most practical thing I can do now is to encourage my own children to follow their hearts and turn something they really love into a viable career. My son chose to study Chartered Accountancy in India (instead of engineering in the West, as I'd thought) and is doing well for himself today. My artistically-inclined daughter is shaping her hobby and career in computer animation and fashion design, which will allow her to balance work and family life. Both have chosen fields they love, and I'm happy they've followed their hearts.

I know my art will always keep me good company. Whether your passion is meant to be a hobby or your life's work, I encourage you to take that leap of faith to find out. You might just discover you have wings.

Have you found a way to do what you love? Share your story with us here...

What's In Your Bag 3: Makeup tips for an easy professional-to-glamour look

In this series, grab a sneak peek into the personal makeup bags of 3 Beautybay professionals who share their favourite tips and tools to looking great all day, every day.

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Name
Cyrine Pinpin, Brand Manager, Beautybay

Skin type
Very oily

Look
As the Brand Manager for Beautybay, I need to set an example of how my team should look in front of customers. So I keep my look presentable and professional - not too flashy but not too dull, a look that I can easily transform to a more glamorous one if I'm going straight from the office to a party.

What's in your bag?
Moisturize & Protect
1) My skin type attracts dirt, and since I wear makeup everyday it tends to stick to my pores. So having a regular cleansing routine using the right skin care products is very important. I make sure to remove all my my makeup every evening, and follow this by removing all grease and grime (cleansing impurities is different from removing makeup!). 

2) To moisturize and protect my skin during the day during the summer, I use Anne Moller Day Cream SPF 8 which does wonders for skin repair. During cooler months, I choose Erborian Yuza Sorbet Day Cream which is anti-stress, anti-fatigue, immune-boosting and also has a great light texture as a makeup base.

3) When going out into the sun, I bolster my skin's defenses with VMV Hypoallergenics' Armada which provides excellent protection.

Makeup
1) My makeup routine starts with a liquid foundation by Rouge Bunny Rouge applied with liquid brush.

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2) Around my eyes I use The Balm concealer.

3) For a matte base, I apply transparent loose powder all over my face.

4) I tend to my eyebrows with an eyebrow pencil along the natural line of the brow, followed by a brush to set the pencil.

5) On my eyes I like to use eye pencils in black & brown together to create a softer look.

6) To make my eyes seem bigger, I create a smoky look using an eyeliner brush, and set the liner with a grey-mauve eyeshadow applied with an outwards, slightly upwards stroke for a fuller look.

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7) On my browbone I apply light gold or white highlights for a bit of shimmer.

8) To mute my look, I put a light beige powder base around my eye (I avoid creams because of my oily skin and Dubai's hot, humid climate).

9) My eyelashes are short and straight, making mascara difficult to use, so I skip it entirely. 

10) Rouge Bunny Rouge's transparent lip balm gives a light gloss to my lips in the mornings when I'm in the office.

11) Last comes my Sisley Blush in a slightly warm colour.

12) If I need to go straight from the office to a party at night, I can instantly up the glam on my existing look - I touch up my eyeliner, put on a striking bright pink or red lip colour and I'm ready to go! Other times I keep my lips neutral and make my eyes super-smoky for a sultry nighttime look.

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Do you have makeup tips and tools that work for you every day? Share them with us here!

What's In Your Bag 1: Makeup tips for a corporate look

In this series, grab a sneak peek into the personal makeup bags of 3 Beautybay professionals who share their favourite tips and tools to looking great all day, every day.

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Name
Marianne Tolentino, Beautybay Marketing Coordinator

Skin Type
Combination

Look
I like a corporate look using natural colours so I remain fresh and presentable every day.

What's in your bag?
1) I start with Erborian BB Cream, a tinted moisturizer with SPF that serves as a great makeup base. It also works as a sunblock, which is essential in hot regions like the UAE.

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2) Then I apply The Balm cream concealer around the eyes and on any dark spots, using my fingertips, to even out my complexion.

3) This is followed by Maybelline Pure Stay compact foundation, applied with a sponge all over the face.

4) On my eyebrows, I use a dark brown eyebrow pencil by Diego Dalla Palma to pencil just the lower half of the eyebrow, since my upper eyebrows are thick enough already. I then brush my eyebrows to set the pencil.

5) For my eyelids, I start with Mac's Rice Paper eyeshadow as a base colour to help correct some dark spots and give an even tone. I then apply a small amount of Brown or Grey shadow just on the lid, and follow this by contouring with a darker shade like Dark Brown
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6) To bring out my eyes, I pull a thin line of Diego Dalla Palma's liquid black eyeliner from the beginning to the end of my eyelid, but not beyond - in hot weather, longer lines tend to smudge by 11am! I prefer not to use anything on my lower lid as it tends to melt or run and it's a pain to keep wiping in the midst of a busy day. 

7) I prime my eyelashes with Clis Booster XL by Lancome, which helps give volume to thin lashes. Then comes a dash of drama with Lancome's Hypnose mascara in black.

8) To accentuate my cheekbones (and make my face look smaller!) I love Diego Dalla Palma's pink powder, applied with a Diego Dalla Palma brush diagonally on the apples of my cheeks. 

9) For my lips, I start with an outline using pencil lipliner by Diego Dalla Palma, of a darker shade than the gloss that follows. Lipliner also helps set the gloss for a longer time. I then simply dab on lip gloss in pinks or nudes, also by Diego Dalla Palma. 

10) Being in an indoor office environment, my skin gets oily by midday, so I also always carry Clean & Clear Oil Blotting Film, which blots excess oil without removing makeup. These are especially good to use before reapplying powder on oily skin, since otherwise the powder would cake and look patchy.

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Do you have makeup tips and tools that work for you every day? Share them with us here!

What's In Your Bag 2: Makeup tips for a natural daytime look

In this series, grab a sneak peek into the personal makeup bags of 3 Beautybay professionals, who share their favourite tips and tools to looking great all day, every day.

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Name
Sheryl Saquing, PA to Deputy General Manager, Beautybay

Skin type
Oily, prone to breakouts

Look
Mine is a simple, natural look. I meet a lot of people every day and I want to look natural and alert - even on days when I'm tired or sleepy - so I focus on making my eyes look bright and clean.

What's in your bag?
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1) I always start my makeup routine by washing my face. Since my skin is oily, I keep it moisturized with L'Oreal Hydrating Gel. A common misconception is that oily skin doesn't require moisturizing, but in fact twice-daily cleansing with a gentle face wash followed by a light, oil-free moisturizer helps keep the skin from drying out and reduces the likelihood of irritated, blotchy skin.

2) Next comes a light, oil-free liquid foundation (Diego Della Palma #52) applied evenly with a fingertip all over the face.
 
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3) I don't usually use any eyeshadow, so instead move to my liquid eyeliner in black/brown applied to my upper eyelid in a "pin-up" or "wing" style to create an almond shape that makes eyes look bigger and brighter. To do this, I start at the inner corner of the upper eyelid and pull a thin, even line towards the outer edge, extending it upwards and slightly beyond the outer edge. I then double back with a second line to create a small "triangle" and fill it in.

4) For my lower eyelid, I use Diego Dalla Palma's black eye pencil on the inner waterline to create contrast and make the whites of my eyes look even whiter.

5) I can't go out without applying mascara by Diego Dalla Palma - I love having long eyelashes!

6) On my cheeks I use a little bit of light-pink powder blush by The Body Shop to blend naturally with the colour of my skin.

7) I can live without lipstick, but I can't leave home without a transparent lip gloss or lip balm to keep my lips moist and give them a bit of natural-looking shine.

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Do you have makeup tips and tools that work for you every day? Share them with us here!