BUONO QATAR

Qatar 2020 | TOURISM & RETAIL | INTERVIEW
Vito Cerabona
BIOGRAPHY

Vito Cerabona is the general manager and co-founder of Buono Qatar, which has proudly created a unique Qatari-European partnership. After spending almost a decade managing and developing this locally created brand, Cerabona truly understands the Qatari retail market and the ever-changing demands of consumers in the country. He passionately advocates the importance of locally created business concepts within the Qatari retail landscape.

What market opportunity did you identify in Qatar that favored the launching of Buono?
The idea comes from a strong Qatari-European ownership. We saw an opportunity in the market for high-quality chocolate products, sweets, flowers, and designer items, with a European-inspired flair and presentation and a competitive price point. We put as much effort into our chocolate as we do into its design. We started in 2010 with chocolate and flowers, and have been in the market for nine years. We have four operating branches and a fifth opening in 2019.

How has the retail landscape been evolving, and where do you forecast the industry going in the future?
When we opened the business, there was not much competition in the market and spending power was high. The country's continued development created a huge advantage in the retail sector. Now, the market has evolved. Consumers have become savvier in their expenses, looking for value and becoming more demanding in terms of quality. There are around 20 malls, and those malls need to be full, so there is much more competition. People are now significantly more realistic about their expectations and standards of living. For the consumer, it is positive. When I first came, people complained there was only one supermarket chain. We have to embrace new ideas, technologies, and ways to increase revenue.

Did you see a shift of preference toward Qatari products after the blockade?
People now choose to support local companies. Malls are increasing spaces for local brands and companies. This has been a huge advantage for us. Now, it is all about the local market and specifically hotels. We specifically changed our brand from Buono to Buono Qatar for this reason; hotels like to feature our name so guests can see where the chocolate company comes from.