The Business Year

Azfar Shakeel VP, Lumi Rental Company

SAUDI ARABIA - Transport

Azfar Shakeel

VP, Lumi Rental Company

Bio

Azfar Shakeel has over 26 years of professional experience at Fortune 500 companies and large conglomerates in the Middle East, including Gillette, P&G, Coca-Cola, and Hanco Holding.

Lumi is expanding its operations, digitalizing, and planning for an IPO.

How was the car industry impacted by the pandemic and what is your assessment of post-COVID-19 recovery?

More or less every business was affected, but as human beings, we are resilient to the challenges. We saw that the recovery of multiple sectors reshaped them. By the end of 2020, we were already in recovery mode. Overall, the Saudi economy recovered quickly. The rental industry was affected in two ways. First, passengers were not there, due to mobility restrictions and the supply chain being affected across the globe, which affected the industry’s calendar. We developed ways to handle these scenarios. After COVID-19, people became more tech-savvy and started using more technology. This gave us an opportunity to capture the market through apps.

Lumi has recently opened new rental branches at airports. How do you intend to leverage this expansion and grow Lumi’s brand?

In line with Vision 2030 of Saudi Arabia, domestic and inbound tourism is on the rise and the customer needs a vehicle at the destination so this is an opportunity for us to capture the market. Lumi has expanded its branch network at 32+ locations including 12 airports across Saudi Arabia. We acquired a rental counter at Jeddah airport in November 2021 and Medina in September 2022 and intend to add three more airports to our branch network to cater to our domestic and inbound customers. We are also expanding our infrastructure in the Northern province to provide transportation services to the teams of mega projects like The LIne, Oxagon etc.

What can you tell us about the growing use of technology in the company and how it improves customer experience?

Now, things are changing very rapidly. It is a technology-driven economy period. If you do not change your business model to make it digital and more focused on AI, you will not be competitive in the market. To achieve that, we are doing lots of activities and initiatives. The pandemic became an opportunity to assess ourselves and to see where the challenges lay. It was a great lesson in overcoming them. Focusing on the digital side gave us an opportunity to learn how to make things happen. Initially, we created a state-of-the-art technology-based application. Currently, we are in the process of developing and launching our own car-sharing model. We hope to launch it by the end of next year. Plus, we are continuously enhancing our customer service efficiency.

What would you say distinguishes Lumi from its competitors?

Lumi has four major competitive advantages among its direct competitors. Firstly, being part of Seera Group leverages Lumi to provide cross-selling services through different business units related to the travel industry. Secondly, we are continuously working on training our teams in customer service at our Lumi Academy. Thirdly, we offer the most competitive pricing amongst direct competitors in the market. Lastly, Lumi is focusing heavily on implementing the newest technology in our business adding car rental application, smart vehicle monitoring system, car sharing, online car sales channel, and multiple other projects. These are the major reasons for high customer satisfaction and retention at Lumi

What are your goals and expectations looking ahead?

One of our biggest dreams is about to come true. We are going for an IPO soon. For more than five years we have been working toward it. After this, we want to categorize Lumi not as a car rental company but as a digital car rental company. We want people to recognize us as the technology-driven business.

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