Bloomingdale's Dubai likely to be only one outside US - CEO

Company chief says no plans to take luxury brand to other countries.

US luxury retail giant Bloomingdale’s has no plans to open further international stores, its chairman and CEO said on Sunday ahead of the launch of the chain’s first Dubai outlet.

The Dubai outlet, Bloomingdale’s first venture outside its domestic US market, will not lay the ground for a string of locations in other emerging markets said Michael Gould, CEO of the department store chain.

“No, I think this is a one store, new concept. This is the first time we’ve expanded a Bloomingdale’s store outside the US. I can tell you we have no plans right now; I’ve not visited any other sites outside the US, I have no plans to. I think we want to see how this works,” he told Arabian Business.

“No one – with all due respect – no large US department store has been successful outside the United States. And I look inside the US and no large store from Europe or Asia has come to the US and had enormous success. It is about translating the brand DNA – and it’s just not simple.”

Bloomingdale’s Dubai outlets, which will open in The Dubai Mall on Monday, comprise a 146,000sq ft fashion and accessories store, and a 54,000sq ft home store. The $73m investment is a joint venture with the UAE-based Al Tayer Group.

The stores, which were planned before the global financial crash, will face stiff competition from a cluster of existing luxury retail chains. Harvey Nichols, also part of the Al Tayer portfolio, opened its largest store outside the UK in 2006, while Saks Fifth Avenue opened in 2004 as a joint venture with the Chalhoub Group.

France’s Galeries Lafayette, a partnership between Emaar Malls Group, Galeries Lafayette and Gard Investments, opened in The Dubai Mall in May 2009.

Gould, however, denied that Dubai’s small population and declining tourist numbers could threaten Bloomingdale’s success in the emirate’s crowded luxury goods market.

“There aren’t two million people in Las Vegas, and look at Las Vegas. My attitude is; there were a lot of people shopping in this mall yesterday. If I’m open, do I just get my fair share or take that share from someone else.

“It’s not just about the luxury merchandise, it’s also about the opening price point,” he said. “Bloomingdale’s Dubai offers a wider range of price points on the floor [than other chains].”

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