LOOKS THAT DON’T DECEIVE

Dubai 2020 | TOURISM | INTERVIEW

In keeping with Dubai's strategy to offer delight to luxury clientele, Chalhoub Group has introduced a more interactive beauty shopping experience.

Patrick Chalhoub
BIOGRAPHY

In 1990, Patrick Chalhoub created a regional distribution platform in the Jebel Ali Free zone with Fendi, L'Oréal, Dior Parfums and Puig. From 2000, he developed the Chalhoub Group's retail network from a few stores to over 600 stores with a workforce of over 12,000 in the region and with local implementation in 14 countries. For nearly 30 years, Chalhoub has been fully involved in the strategic development of the business to guarantee its long-term success. Chalhoub has also been actively involved in associations, such as the French Business Council, the Rotary, and the Capital Club, Endeavor, which helps start-ups to scale-up. He is also regularly consulted by local governments on economic development, governance, and social responsibilities.

How would you assess the luxury segment in Dubai?
Dubai focused on bringing luxury offerings to the local and international market early on. This started with the airport; Dubai Airport and the airlines that fly through it have been essential in attracting luxury visitors and creating a luxury experience. The country has done a great job at developing a clear luxury-oriented strategy. However, the government's strategy, not to mention our own, has been more than just a focus on the luxury segment. We want to delight people in numerous ways. This means creating an entire experience that is luxurious and delight-inducing from beginning to end. The vision in Dubai is about positioning the nation to offer luxurious, value-added propositions. There are now more brands here than in London or Hong Kong. There has been a heavy emphasis put on developing assets like shopping malls that can cater to the luxury-oriented visitors. As a retailer, we are experiencing the same phenomenon. We are also focused on utilizing technology to offer a different experience. Digital competition is becoming difficult, and the digital retail landscape is forcing us to offer new and unique products and focus on innovative approaches.

What is special about the beauty market in the Middle East?
The luxury market has been quite flat in the Middle East over recent years. The Middle Eastern market is worth EUR8 billion, compared to EUR300 billion for the global market. In general, the Middle East has been a fragrance-oriented market. Previously, fragrances made up 60% of the luxury market, where makeup and skincare made up 30% and 10%, respectively. At present, fragrance represents barely 50% of the market, makeup has increased to over 40%, and skincare is still hovering around 10%. Asia is mainly a skincare market, while Europe is fairly balanced, and fragrance is smaller in America. We are moving to a market that is more interested in how it looks, and it will evolve into a market that is more and more interested in skincare. In 12 years, we went from bringing the first Sephora shop to the UAE to the point where every mall wants to have one.

As an expert in luxury retail, what does Faces mean to the Chalhoub Group?
We have been strongly integrated in the beauty world in the Middle East. Faces has been the concept that helps us move away from being a brand distributor to a presenter of brands, to best express brands to our customers. We are now more engaged with our customers. We are continuously evolving as the market evolves, and the market demands a more unique, bespoke experience. It is about offering different experiences and services for a real customer journey, making him or her feel and look good. We did this for two main reasons: our customers and competition have completely changed and transformed in the last 20-30 years. Second is a shift in the economy that forces players to either leave the market or reposition themselves. Pursuing the latter is a bigger investment and riskier, though that is significantly much more rewarding.

What do you want customers to remember and convey to others?
For most, the experience starts when customers enter the store and ends when they leave. For us, through building several omni-channel tools, we aim at the experience before the store and continue way after. Customers will receive an email after going to the store, and they can tell us what they liked or what they did not like. We want friends and family to view us as a place that welcomes, understands, and respects them. We are here to help people live their beauty and individuality. That is, quintessentially, the story behind the rebranding of Faces: feel good, look good, connect, engage, and feel at home.