TYING THE ROOM TOGETHER

Saudi Arabia 2020 | ENTERTAINMENT, CULTURE & SPORTS | INTERVIEW

Almutlaq is a Saudi furniture company that offers brands for modern and classic tastes. Its new plan is to move manufacturing to local facilities.

Bilal AlZer
BIOGRAPHY
Bilal AlZer was appointed President of Almutlaq Co. in January 2019, as the first non-family top executive to manage the company. He has vast experience in the retail industry across the GCC and was previously the regional manager of Marks & Spencer and country manager of Alyasra Fashion in Kuwait.

Almutlaq is a family-owned business with 40 years of experience. Could you tell us more about its recent transformation?

The company was established in 1979 and we are celebrating our 40th anniversary in 2019. In early 2019, I was appointed as the first non-family CEO of the company, which indicates how the owners envision developing the company. In mid-2019, we started our anniversary campaign by offering our customers attractive deals and merchandise. Almutlaq has a deep-rooted history in Saudi Arabia and was one of the first few furniture businesses allowed to import furniture. What is interesting about Almutlaq is that it does not serve only one lifestyle. We cater to a wide range of consumers in Saudi Arabia, from young millennials to clients who prefer carved furniture from the Victorian era. We also have customers with what we call a “transitional interest." That means they want something in between classic and modern styles. We also cover a wide range of prices, from middle to mid-high and high-end furniture. With this we cover a huge spectrum of customers in Saudi Arabia.

Can you tell us a bit about the brands you offer?

Almutlaq has four brands. The first is Almutlaq, which is also the company's original brand. It mainly covers the classic to transitional lifestyle and caters to mid-range customers, such as government employees and small business owners. Then, we have our CityW brand, which is actually a Chinese company that started manufacturing and then decided to go into retail. It has a number of showrooms in China and Southeast Asia. CityW is focused on more transitional to contemporary style, affordable merchandise, and furniture. CityW is a high-quality brand with sleek design. Our third brand, Roomz, was the creative idea of our board's younger generation. They created Roomz because they saw a need in the market—there was no one-stop shop for a wide variety of high-end furniture. Therefore, they invested in a huge, almost 13,000-sqm, showroom that caters to mid- to high-end customers. You can find some excellent international brands there, including American and European brands. We have put a mix of lifestyles into Roomz—it has classic, transitional, and contemporary furniture under one roof. At present, we have one showroom, but we have a strategic plan to expand our Roomz portfolio to other cities in the next five years. Our fourth brand, Creative Home, is mainly focused on furniture-related accessories and accents, such as special, limited-addition furniture that you will not find anywhere else. We have one shop in Riyadh. Creative Home was only introduced a few years ago to cover another need in the market. A lot of furniture retailers here have bits and pieces of accessories and accents within their portfolio. We decided to give our customers a world of accessories under one roof where they can go, look, and make their choice.

How do you envision the future of Saudi furniture in terms of design and manufacturing?

We are proud to have another separate business under the umbrella of the Almutlaq family that manufactures transitional sofas. We have signed another agreement with a Saudi factory that makes attractive fitted wardrobes. It has been in the market for almost 20 years, and we decided to partner with them to support our business and the market's specific needs. The majority of the furniture we buy from the US does not come with wardrobes because walk-in closets are popular there. Everyone building a new house in Saudi wants to tailor their wardrobe to fit their needs, so fitted wardrobes are the trend at present. Almutlaq is supportive of local manufacturing companies. Having your manufacturing next door means you can get more products when you need them. When we buy from the US or China, we have to wait almost four months for delivery. Local manufacturing only takes a couple of weeks.