What is your approach to luxury retailing?
MOHAMMED AR AL FAHIM When it comes to luxury, a person always wants to feel great about his or her appearance. Looking beautiful and smelling nice is very important. Environment is part of the service, however. You can find cosmetics or perfumes anywhere you like. A customer can have a tea or coffee, but it is different depending on the environment. However, they also expect to receive more in terms of service and feeling, so that it feels worth that price. Now, when it comes to cosmetics and perfume, it is the same thing. We know that our customers expect a different standard of service. However, it is not necessary to pay a little bit extra for that higher service, and this is what we try to maintain. The price of perfumes and cosmetics are all standardized and unified globally. We sell the products at a price and do not charge extra for the higher service and the ambiance of our store. We provide an environment with a lot of space, so that customers can have personal privacy while shopping and feel comfortable to walk around, browse, rest, and so on. It does not feel like going into a busy, crowded convenience store. We merchandise our products through large personalized wall units that create a different feeling from smaller shops elsewhere in Dubai or Europe. Just like Dubai is the hub and destination for luxury, Paris Gallery is the destination for luxury when it comes to this sector of business. Customers know what they get in Paris Gallery. The brands know where to go to present themselves to their customers in the right way, and that is why Dubai is important.
ABDULMAGIED AHMED SEDDIQI We have clients from a broad range of demographics, age and nationality because of the wide range of our brand portfolio. Our UAE-based clients are mainly locals and we have many clients who visit us from overseas to buy a certain pieces. In addition we also cater to the mass wave of tourists who visit the UAE throughout the year. We have clients whose grandfather and father used to buy from us, and now generations later, we still have them as clients. With growth and change in any market, the demands and expectations of clients have changed and evolved with time. Today, we also see more watch collectors based in the UAE then a few years ago, and this has been a result of educating the market and bringing in exclusive and unique pieces to the UAE through Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons. With a portfolio of over 50 Swiss watch brands, it is easy for us to cater to the needs of our clients. Of course, we have witnessed the appreciation of complications over the years and this is primarily due to the increase of UAE based watch collectors, many of whom are UAE nationals.
How do you plan to expand?
MF We do have a plan for the Middle East and the neighboring countries that are close to the Middle East. We are currently looking at Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, and Syria. We have plans to expand in the Middle East and outside the region. Our team is also already in Baku, Azerbaijan, trying to work out a business plan. Iraq is interesting to us, but we are waiting. Iraq has very big potential in terms purchasing power, country size, and the need for luxury. Turkey is another possibility. Then, later on, Lebanon and Egypt—when the time comes.
AS The company brand has become a destination, and that is enough for us. Dubai is a business center and we are based in Dubai, so all of our main activities are here. Being a family business we want to have our own people running the business, not necessarily the entire operations, but certainly to be on the top and to manage. We now have the capacity for more managers, and we do wish to move more into Abu Dhabi. I believe we should focus on developing here in our own country. You cannot be strong everywhere. We have clients who come from all over the world who know us and come to us. The trust that our clients have bestowed on us over the years is something that we treasure. We have built our reputation over the past 60 years, and achieved this through hard work, honesty, and the excellent service that we offer to our clients.