60 seconds with…Francesca Melcarne, CEO – XO Enterprises

How was the re-opening of your business and how was it carried out in line with safety procedures put in place to allow social distancing?

Being XO Enterprises a consultancy business we decided to encourage our team to work from home while ensuring regular daily interaction through zoom meetings.

We have been providing assistance to multiple businesses in the region in terms of developing new SOP material for their restaurants and food production facilities. We consider ourselves to be specialists in this field. The rules are continuously adapted and updated to meet government requirements. We continue to work remotely while facilitating meetings in large meeting rooms where we can maintain the appropriate social distancing protocols.

How is the general feeling and feedback from your team members and your customers now the lockdown is over?

Our business has gone through tremendous positive changes because of the lock down. We decided to proactively make our new normal working practices better than the already high standards we set for ourselves and to deliver to our clients outstanding results.

We have hired a very agile team that has integrated well with the existing senior members. We are a strong and positive thinking business that recognises all the new opportunities that have been presented to us.

What role has technology played in supporting your re-opening plan?

We have and continuously are investing much of our effort in implementing the latest technology available in this ever-changing transformative time. We work with various tech team in UAE and Europe to provide the best solution for our business and advise for our customers. Currently our key focus is on blockchain development and strategic supply chain management for small and large enterprises.

What market trends are you seeing since re-opening?

 We are living in a digital era and the technology of this digital world is changing rapidly. The interesting part of this digital revolution is that it directly or indirectly impacts each and every one of us. Whether there is a change in the smart phone technology leading to a revolution in the flow of information, or an advancement in online security thus changing the way we do banking, the changes will just keep on coming.

In many cases, a piece of technology or system starts with solving one problem, but the more that it is understood, the further its potential can grow.

Blockchain is regarded as the next disruption and trend in the technology world and is being studied for several applications, business sectors and processes. This includes the secure handling and storing of administrative records and digital authentication to strengthen intellectual property rights and patent systems, as well as bringing transparency throughout the supply chain thereby reducing food fraud and enhancing food safety

Other trends we have seen developing are in healthy and sustainable eating: Consumers are becoming increasingly concerned with health & wellness and this has clear implications for their food choices. Many of the existing fast food chains have responded by introducing more healthy menu options while new brands are emerging with a specific focus on health and wellbeing.

Emergence of more ‘home grown’ brands: The food & beverage sector is currently heavily dependent upon traditional local offers and large global brands. There are opportunities for additional local or ‘home grown’ concepts, particularly for those offering healthy options utilizing locally sourced ingredients.

Delivery and dark kitchens: while more people will go outside the home to share their eating experience, the market for home delivery will remain sizeable and this is estimated to continue growing.

Another consequence of the growth in the food delivery option will be a further separation between the location of food preparation and consumption. There is already a growing interest in ‘dark kitchens’ (kitchens without dining facilities) across the major Middle Eastern cities and I believe this interest is only likely to increase over time allowing a natural selection of the one applying best practices and technology.

What techniques have you used to build sales and re-engage customers? 

I am an entrepreneur and a passionate business development individual who is interested in building long term relationships with our clients. I focus on long term solution but will provide a short -term fix when needed. The challenging Covid time has helped me to strengthen the relationships with our network of investors around the world as well as focusing on setting up continuous communication systems. You don't have to re-engage if you never stop engaging in the first place.

What positive lessons do we need to learn from what the industry has been through?

I believe that behind any challenges there is always the opportunity          of growth. As Joshua Marine says, “Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful”.

We have all gone through a difficult few months during lockdown and we have seen some major deals fall apart but we have immediately utilized our strengths and passionate behaviour to pivot our business aiming to become the most transparent and ethical business in the Middle East and beyond.

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Date Published: 16th October 2020