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Luxury retailers bet on Mideast to boost sales.

Byline: Debojyoti Ghosh

MUSCAT Eoe1/4" In the current global economic scenario, the Middle East luxury market is proving to be a safe bet for luxury retailers worldwide.

Luxury goods manufacturer Montblanc recently announced the opening of its boutique in Oman. Louis Vuitton, the flagship brand of LVMH, announced plans to open its first store in Lebanon. In the coming months, the French luxury retailer, Van Cleef and Arpels will be opening stores in the GCC.

Eoe1/4EoOur regional expansion plan entails opening of several new boutiques in the current fiscal year including our own outlets as well as through franchise partners. And Oman forms a prominent part of this expansion drive,Eoe1/4A[yen] says Joe Nahhas, regional brand director, Montblanc. Consultancy Bain & Company in its recent luxury market report highlighted that emerging markets will see the greatest growth in new openings of directly-operated stores (DOS). Of the 300 estimated store openings globally in 2009, 30 per cent will be in the Middle East.

According to media reports Van Cleef & Arpels is opening four stores in the GCC. Eoe1/4EoWe are expanding in the Middle East market. This is because we meet the Middle East populationEoe1/4aos demands,Eoe1/4A[yen] says Stanislas de Quercize, president and CEO, Van Cleef & Arpels. Eoe1/4EoGCC customers are connoisseurs; they are sensitive to style, craftsmanship and are looking for creativity.Eoe1/4A[yen] The French luxury retailer currently has three stores in the UAE.

Last year, Montblanc opened one boutique each in every GCC country. Now it has plans for further growth with several more boutiques, as well as expansions or relocations of existing boutiques.

According to Bain, the decline for the worldwide luxury goods industry will be less than expected in 2009 and poised for one per cent overall positive sales growth in 2010.

Eoe1/4EoWe are looking forward to the potential in this area with great expectation. Most GCC nations will reap the benefits of consumer resurgence,Eoe1/4A[yen] says P Chandrasekhr, group general manager, Jawad Sultan Group of Companies, Oman.

Eoe1/4EoNotwithstanding the uncertainty in UAE, it will still remain the key driver for this segment because of overseas visitors. Other countries in the region will also benefit since, there is a lot of infrastructural push everywhere,Eoe1/4A[yen] he says.

Precious market

Speaking about Van Cleef & ArpelsEoe1/4ao expansion plans in Oman, de Quercize says Eoe1/4EoOman is a small yet precious market for us.Eoe1/4A[yen] According to industry experts Oman constitutes five per cent of the total GCC market. Capital Store, part of the Jawad Sultan Group, which hosts premium luxury brands, has chalked up a growth agenda for next year. Eoe1/4EoOne of our showrooms is getting renovated completely very soon and the company is also expanding and repositioning in Salalah during 2010. Plans are also afoot to add more brands in this area,Eoe1/4A[yen] says Chandrasekhr.

The demographic structure in Gulf is skewed towards youth who are early adopters and the prime target for luxury brands. OmanEoe1/4aos population is young and aspiration-oriented with 64 per cent under the age of 29 years. Industry experts see a discerning trend in the consumer preferences and are confident that 2010 will see a gradual re-emergence of the customers and also new shoppers in this area.

Muscat Press and Publishing House SAOC 2009

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Publication:Times of Oman (Muscat, Oman)
Date:Nov 23, 2009
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