Nisreen Shocair has been the President of Virgin Megastore for the Middle East (VM), a division of Azadea Group Holding, since 2006. Virgin Megastore Middle East is a leading entertainment brand and retailer in the region, synonymous with youth, trend, entertainment and culture.
Since joining Virgin Megastore, Shocair has initiated and led the brand’s transformation and evolution in the region, outplaying the challenges faced by international physical entertainment retailers and the decreasing physical music and movie sales. In parallel, managing to achieve double-digit growth year on year and aggressively expanding the brand’s footprint in the region.
Nisreen has built the Virgin brand across the region by incorporating local and international consumption trends into one shopping experience. Nisreen has worked within the music, publishing, licensing, digital entertainment and retail industries. She has held positions at Sony Music, Bertelsmann AG, Hearst Entertainment and most recently Virgin Megastore ME.
Upon joining, the London Business School and Columbia University graduate saw an opportunity for the strong brand to widen its customer base appeal by expanding the experience while staying true to the established entertainment retail positioning.
When Nisreen Shocair joined Virgin Megastore, the brand was well established in the region as a music and movies retail destination, primarily targeting and attracting male customers, the majority over 35. It was necessary to expand the brand appeal to a broader representation of the market, through working to improve on ways to attract and retain customers from outside the brand’s original customer base.
Nisreen led an organization-wide culture of change since day one, identifying and grabbing opportunities that eventually got the brand and stores to where they are today: the leading lifestyle entertainment retail destination in the Middle East.Virgin Megastore now represents a unique shopping experience that is as appealing to every member of the family, with a strong focus on younger customers.
For Virgin Megastore to thrive, Nisreen saw that the evolution of the brand would need to be continuous, and so it has been since then. The latest milestone came in 2014, with the opening of the brand’s first concept lifestyle store in Yas Mall, Abu Dhabi. Conceptualized by Shocair, the store is an exciting and vibrant destination that pushes the boundaries and takes the ‘one-stop shop for all entertainment needs’ brand promise to a new level.
Nisreen pioneered the way for the stores to venture down the eco-friendly route, before environmental considerations were something in the public eye in the region.
Nisreen is very active in driving support for local businesses and entrepreneurship initiatives in the UAE and region, she has a global perspective having lived and worked in New York, London, the Middle East and Africa. She is constantly open to new markets and trends, she spends a great deal of time travelling – visiting various trade shows, meeting suppliers from around the world and keeping abreast of what’s happening. It’s very important to Nisreen that she remains ahead of the crowd and introduces products to the region that would excite the US and European market, not only the Middle East.
Nisreen strongly advocates participating in CSR initiatives and over the years has supported entities like Sougha which helps in sustaining local Emirati artisans and their heritage. Nisreen is invited to speak at local schools as a mentor – delivering the positive message of always being open to saying YES.
As a powerful woman in business, Nisreen is often approached for advice on how to get ahead. In 2012, she was a judge on the Dubai One TV show, The Entrepreneur – searching for a future business star with the next big idea. She’s invited to speak at International Women’s Business Group events and in 2013 was a panellist at the Middle East Retail Forum in a discussion focussing on breaking gender boundaries in retail.
The mother of three is truly a role model for every member of the Virgin Megastore team, and an inspiration to every woman looking to successfully balance family life with strong professional success.
Nisreen’s main career highlights include i) working on the Napster acquisition in 2000 while at Bertelsmann. It was the beginning of the mainstreaming of digital music and early seeds of streaming and fee-based digital music services, ii) keeping some of the world’s most treasured and iconic comic properties current for many generations to come while she was at Hearst Entertainment, and iii) turning around the Virgin Megastore business from a pure play CD and DVD store into a lifestyle store that has become synonymous with Technology, Entertainment, Fashion and Fun!
Nisreen was awarded Female CEO of the Year by CEO Middle East in 2011 and Businesswoman of the Year by Women in Leadership in 2011. She was on the 100 Most Powerful Arab Women’s list three years in a row by Arabian Woman magazine and was also listed amongst the top 100 most Powerful Arab Women in 2014 by Forbes Middle East. She was also a winner during the 2014 Blue Ocean Retail Brilliance Awards. Nisreen is on the advisory board of several digital and environmental start-ups. She is a YPO member and is a frequent guest lecturer on innovation and product development.