By Soren Billing
EXCLUSIVE: Joseph Wan says city has too many competitors in high-end retail.
The chief executive of luxury retailer Harvey Nichols has expressed reservations about the number of upmarket department stores coming to Dubai.
“I have my reservations regarding the future sustainability of so many competitors in the same place, where the population is…maybe less than two million,” Joseph Wan told Arabian Business in an interview in Dubai.
“But at least we, Harvey Nichols, have the first-mover advantage. We were the first ones to come, and ever since we opened we have been trading very successfully.”
In March 2006 the luxury British retailer opened its largest outlet outside the UK in Dubai’s Mall of the Emirates. The store is operated by the Al Tayer Group.
High-end store Saks Fifth Avenue opened in BurJuman in 2004 as a joint venture with the Chalhoub Group, and launched a second branch on The Walk at the Jumeirah Beach Residence in 2008.
France’s Galeries Lafayette, a partnership between Emaar Malls Group, Galeries Lafayette and Gard Investments, opened in The Dubai Mall in May this year.
US rival Bloomingdales has partnered with the Al Tayer Group to open two outlets in the same mall in February next year.
“I will have to wait and see. Clearly, in the long term it is hard to believe that all of us will be doing very well,” said Wan.
“But who will be doing better or worse I do not want to forecast, it remains to be seen. All I can say is that up to now, we have been doing exceptionally well, well above all our original expectations.”
Sales at Harvey Nichols in Dubai were down “in single digits” compared to last year, he said.
Joseph Wan is probably correct in his forecast that the Dubai market will be over saturated with 'high-end retail'. As far as which store will do 'better or worse', is concerned, in my opinion, this will be determined by (apart from product selection obviously) the quality and standard of service that will be delivered through the cycle of pre-sales, during the sale, and post-sale, an area that all high-end retailers in Dubai, and indeed within the in the GCC in general are currently particularly weak on!