When it comes to the world’s fashion capitals, it is not an injustice to say that Sharjah does not rank alongside Paris, Milan or London.
However, it was in this culturally conservative Gulf emirate that one of the UAE’s best known fashion exports was born.
Founded in 1993 with a single outlet, Splash has found success with a mix of in-house designs and imported Western labels, combined with highly competitive pricing. In the nineteen years since its inception, the brand has grown to more than 140 stores across eleven territories, including Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Egypt.
The company is now a key component in Micky Jagtiani’s Dubai-based Landmark Group, an empire which turns over more than $4.7bn per year.
While Splash’s outlets are a common sight across the Middle East’s glut of malls, CEO Raza Beig has set his sights on significantly expanding the retailer’s presence outside of the region. The inspiration behind this, he says, is two of the UAE’s best-known exports.
“About ten years ago some very senior retailer told me ‘brands are made in the West’ and I challenged that,” he recalls. “We’ve had brands like Emirates and Etihad, who are regional brands, and have made not only a mark internationally, but have unmatched quality standards.”
Over the next eighteen months, Beig says Splash will open outlets in up to sixteen new cities in countries across Africa, South Asia and potentially the Far East. The markets Splash will be moving into in this timeframe include Libya, which has apparently found its thirst for fashion post-Gaddafi, Kenya and Sri Lanka.
Given Splash’s status as a newcomer in these markets, the company will be entering them purely on a franchise basis, rather than making its own investments or through joint ventures, Beig says.
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