Paris Gallery's sweet smell of success

Dubai retailer Paris Gallery nearly went bust in 2006. CEO Mohammed Abdul Rahim Al Fahim reveals how he turned the firm around, and why the UAE brand is now set to go global.

Dubai. Paris. London.New York. Paris Gallery Group CEO Mohammed Abdul Rahim Al Fahim is aiming to conquer them all with his family’s luxury retail chain.

It would be a major scoop for a business that has bloomed from a small perfumery in the Sharjah desert, but after becoming a leader across the GCC, the glamour of international cities seems ever closer.

Last year Paris Gallery announced plans to expand outside the GCC for the first time, with five stores planned for Iraq, followed by Azerbaijan. In March Al Fahim reveals to Arabian Business he is in talks to open two stores in South Africa in what would be the company’s first presence outside the Middle East.

The expansion has come faster than he predicted — the South African plans are due only to the persistent requests of an investor in that country and were not originally in the company’s plans — but Al Fahim has no intention of putting on the brakes.

“Our longer plan is to be the leader in luxury retail in the Middle East and possibly to be in the capitals of the main developed countries, like... England, France, Italy, even New York, LA and so on,” he tells Arabian Business.

“That’s our ambition. We believe internally that the company’s capabilities are increasing and it’s becoming more capable of competing in very competitive markets beyond the GCC and Middle East. We’re [already]... leading in many sectors in our business in the GCC so next for us was to move into the Middle Eastern countries; this is what we’re trying to do in the next three-to-five years. After that [we want] to be more international.”

Paris Gallery — renowned for selling the exclusive $300,000 bottle of Clive Christian perfume — has become a sought-after brand internationally, with several inquiries to franchise in other countries, Al Fahim says.

“We are very much proud of it. Our brand awareness in the cultures around us here in the Middle East is great,” he says.

“I’m talking about people from different sectors, different industries who approach us and [when we ask] what attracted you to this type of retailing [the answer] is always ‘it’s a beautiful brand, nice services, we haven’t seen that around the globe’, all this nice stuff. This makes us take the approach more seriously.”

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