Q&A with Shoaib Qureshy, Chief Executive, Bulls Eye Group, on his agency’s acquisition of Symbios.pk.
ZEENAT CHAUDHARY: Why did Bulls Eye Group acquire Symbios.pk?
SHOAIB QURESHY: Two reasons: e-commerce is the future and we are not a traditional advertising agency. As a leading creative agency, which has a presence in both Pakistan and Oman, we have decades of experience in marketing client products and services via TV, digital and in-store activations and promotions, along with several other consumer touch points. Since our inception, we have developed marketing strategies and the creative skills necessary to successfully execute different types of ad campaigns. We plan to use those skills to enter the online retail market as a natural expansion of our capabilities.
ZC: What attracted you to Symbios.pk in particular?
SQ: Symbios.pk are pioneers in online shopping. They were the first online retailer in Pakistan; they began operations in 2006 and have grown organically ever since due to the unique entrepreneurial capabilities of their founder, Saad Jangda, who has led Symbios.pk for years. He recently let it be known he was looking for a way to exit in order to focus on his other passions. While in talks with other regional and local players, the opportunity also came to me and I grabbed it - quite swiftly might I add. Furthermore, I have worked with Symbios.pk in the past and have a thorough understanding of how they operate and I have enough confidence and trust in the brand.
ZC: Are you planning on revamping Symbios.pk’s website?
SQ: We will be incorporating our marketing, technological and digital skills in the Symbios.pk platform, so expect a lot of changes under our management. Our objective is to change the customer experience for the better. At the moment, our focus is brand positioning, identifying and analysing the right target audience, analysing the platform’s product range and potentially expanding it, and changing the platform’s user interface.
ZC: How do you plan on competing with other players, such as homeshopping.pk, daraz.pk and shophive.pk?
SQ: Pakistan’s online shopping market is still in its infancy and its future is yet to be determined. Since the market’s target audience is massive and mostly untapped, there is enough room for all of these players to carve out unique positions for themselves in the online market.
ZC: Why did Bulls Eye create a separate entity, DigiBull, to manage the Symbios.pk brand?
SQ: Online retail should be independently managed within our company; I strongly believe it needs to be given its own unique space (technology-driven initiatives within the playing field of marketing and sales) in order to flourish. DigiBull was created over five years ago and is also trademark registered. Looking back on the day DigiBull was created, I cannot but help think that perhaps it was created for this milestone.
ZC: What was the biggest challenge you faced with the acquisition?
SQ: Globally, the mergers and acquisitions business is well developed and everyone is aware of valuation and pricing models, and the contractual bindings that come into play post-acquisition. There are expert third-party advisors one can hire to manage the process in a seamless manner. However, in Pakistan, this is not the case. So we faced a fair set of challenges on these fronts but we eventually managed to strike a mutually beneficial deal for both parties.