Senior manager leaves Union Co-op

Marwan Althani, the manager who led the co-ops' recovery, has left the group.

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By  Roger Field Published  February 1, 2006

Marwan Ahmad Essa Althani, the business specialist hired to turn around the fortunes of the UAE’s troubled co-operative supermarkets, has left the group after four years service. Althani, who was general manager at Dubai’s Union Co-op, had significant influence over the UAE’s wider co-operative movement, and was instrumental in streamlining operations at the group. He also implemented the system whereby managers from all the UAE’s co-ops meet once a month to discuss business strategy. Althani may have left the group amid internal disagreements with the board of directors, one retail analyst told RNME. “I just get this gut feeling that there could have been some misunderstanding [with the board of directors] and he has probably resigned,” the source said. It is uncertain how Althani’s departure will affect the co-operative supermarkets, although it is widely accepted that he was instrumental in improving the fortunes of the businesses. “They [co-ops] were stagnant and almost going down at one point,” the source said. “He was instrumental in driving co-op growth in the UAE. It worked to a large extend because he was able to streamline procedures. I think something has probably gone wrong somewhere and he has thrown the towel in.” Althani, who has previously worked for UAE government ministries, was recruited by the co-op’s board of directors largely for his strategic skills and his “strong planning background”, according to the source. “He comes from a very strong planning background. He is more of a strategic thinker. He was brought in more from a strategic point of view than a retail point of view,” the source added. But Althani dismissed speculation that the move was due to any kind of internal disputes. He told RNME that his departure was amicable and that he is now running his own real estate business, and also carrying out some work as an independent business and retail consultant. “The relation [with the co-ops] is good,” he said. “There are no issues. I have good relations with the people there. I want to work on my own business.”

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