Top 25 Consultants 2010: Hana Ben-Shabat

Hana Ben-Shabat Hana Ben-Shabat
A.T. Kearney
Excellence in Retail

When retail companies contemplate their global expansion strategies, A.T. Kearney’s Global Retail Development Index is one of the market’s premier go-to resources. And that makes the index’s co-author, Hana Ben-Shabat, one of the retail industry’s most sought after consultants.

Since 2001, the Global Retail Development Index has emerged as a premier annual study of retail investment attractiveness among 30 emerging markets. “I’ve been involved since its inception, when we first started to hear that big retailers were looking globally,” Ben-Shabat says. “Right after we published the first edition, retailers all around the world were very interested. So, we continued,” she says.

From a firm that prides itself on its thought leadership, the index has become the single most downloaded document on A.T. Kearney’s Web site. Since the last edition was published in June 2009, it has been viewed more than 7,500 times.

Given the challenges in today’s retail market, the desire to expand into new markets has never been more important. “Global expansion is really a great option,” Ben-Shabat says. “If growth has stagnated in one’s core market, global expansion can help increase economies of scale.”

Knowing where to expand is the first step. “It has been very interesting to see and monitor how countries move up and down on the index because many of our findings are not what you’d expect to see,” she says. For example, for the first several years of the index, China was recognized as the best market to which a retailer should consider expanding.
However, identifying that a market is ripe with opportunity doesn’t guarantee success. “There are lots of cases where companies go into a new market and fail miserably. They underestimate the challenges—local culture, level of competition—and don’t take into account local government regulations. For example, in China you have to get permission from each local government before establishing a business there,” she says.

And it’s that additional necessary assistance that has made the index such a success. The study can highlight where a retailer should consider expanding, but it takes the expertise of Ben-Shabat and her team to help them execute that strategy.

—Jess Scheer

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