EXCLUSIVE: Kuwaiti retailer closes four top-end designer stores in financial centre.
Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) said on Monday it is revising its retail strategy following the closures of four top-end designer stores.
Boutiques of designers Vivienne Westwood, Jill Sander, Issey Miyake and Nina Ricci, which opened just over a year ago in conjunction with Kuwaiti retailer Villa Moda, have closed their doors in Gate Village for good.
In a statement, DIFC said new retailers are set to fill the vacant units in due course that would better suit the financial area.
“DIFC is revising its retail strategy to bring the retail offer of the shops and stores in the financial centre into line with the needs of the DIFC community and the surrounding district.
“As part of this process, some of the retail outlets in the DIFC have closed temporarily to be replaced in the coming months by companies in the pipeline of retailers, who have already expressed interest in taking space in the financial centre.”
Both the Vivienne Westwood and Nina Ricci boutiques were the first for the fashion designers to open in the Middle East region.
A Villa Moda spokesman said on Monday that a combination of low footfall and brand awareness had contributed to the store closures.
“Gate Village, while it is very beautiful, it is quite quiet, and may not be the best location for brands that are not that well known,” he said.
“The brand awareness also hasn’t responded as well as we expected. The sales haven’t done what they would do in Europe among Dubai customers. So we thought it better to stop now and revise our business plan.”
He added that the brands would have stood a better chance of building up a client base in Mall of the Emirates where footfall is much stronger.
He said Villa Moda was a recognisable brand in Dubai and there were no plans to close the men’s and women’s boutiques also in Gate Village.
He said the company was looking at its future options, which would include new brand openings, but he declined to elaborate further.
Villa Moda was founded by the nephew of the Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Majed Al-Sabah. The company opened its first store in Kuwait in 1992, and has shops in Dubai, Qatar and Damascus.
The company stocks 11 different luxury fashion brands including Gucci, Yves Saint-Laurent, Bottega Veneta, Prada, Dolce & Gabann and Salvatore Ferragamo.