By Andy Sambidge
Luxury retailer set to open five franchise stores; also planning growth in Oman, Azerbaijan
Paris Gallery, the Dubai-based luxury retailer, has announced plans to open five franchise stores in Iraq as part of its expansion strategy.
CEO Mohamed AR Al Fahim said the time was right for the move, adding that Paris Gallery has partnered with the Al Handal Group.
Under the deal, the Al Handal Group will open five stores in the next three years with two stores in Baghdad, two in Erbil and one in Basra.
The Iraq expansion is part of Paris Gallery's growth plans outside its Gulf base where it employs 3,500 staff.
It is also in the middle of negotiations to open new stores in Turkey, Moscow, St Petersburg and many other cities in the Arab world.
Half the company's stores trade under the Paris Gallery label, selling about 500 brands including Chanel, Dior, Yves Saint Laurent and Lancome.
The UAE provides more than 60 percent of Paris Gallery's revenue and Saudi Arabia about 35 percent, with the remainder from other Gulf countries.
Paris Gallery said in a statement that is also expanding into Azerbaijan and Oman.
Al Fahim said: "We have been looking forward to this day, and the time is right. In the past we have had several companies who wanted to open Paris Gallery stores in Iraq, but the conditions were not favorable for us to do so.
"After much deliberation and research we have now partnered with the Al Handal Group who shares the same business philosophy with us."
He added: "We are in an expansion mode now. We are well set in the UAE, and strengthening ourselves in the GCC countries. We are also eagerly looking forward to the other markets in the world.
"2013 will be a big year for us as we have many stores planned to open in different parts of the world."
Mohammed Al Handal, CEO of Al Handal International Group, said: "We have very high expectations. Paris Gallery has a solid reputation... We are excited as we believe that Paris Gallery will bring something special and unique that our Iraqi market needs."
Al Fahim added: "Iraq is in a transition phase now, moving from unstable to stable. We believe that by the time we are set to open our first store in Iraq, the situation in Iraq will have improved to a great extent."
Paris Gallery boasts a network of over 40 stores located in prime retail addresses across the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain.For all the latest retail news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.