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Sun 31 Jan 2010 05:23 PM

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Luxury retailer eyes new Saudi shop openings

UAE's Al Tayer Insignia aims to open six stores as it sees luxury spending rebound.

Luxury retailer eyes new Saudi shop openings

The largest luxury retailer in the Middle East on Sunday revealed it will open six new stores in oil-rich Saudi Arabia this year amid tentative signs of a rebound in the designer goods market.

Al Tayer Insignia, part of UAE-based Al Tayer Group, has said it is keen to tap into consumer appetite in the Gulf’s largest economy, as luxury spending begins to recover.

“Saudi has huge potential. It is a strong, local market on luxury business,” said Shireen El Khatib, CEO of Al Tayer Insignia.

“We are expanding into Riyadh and we have a few stores opening in 2010. We already have five stores in Jeddah, and we’re opening two more in Jeddah and at least four in Riyadh.”

El Khatib was speaking on the sidelines of the launch of Bloomingdale’s Dubai, a $73m joint venture between Al Tayer group and the US luxury department store that will mark the chain’s first international venture.

The two stores, which open in The Dubai Mall on Monday, span a combined 200,000sq ft and cover fashion, accessories and homewear.

Insignia, which counts Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent in its brand portfolio, saw an up to 30 percent drop in sales last year, around the height of the global financial crash.

Sales of accessories and footwear, the firm’s strongest products, remained flat, El Khatib said.

“Accessories and footwear are the hero products that consumers go after, more than ready-to-wear. In our hero brands, the business was sustained. That for us was a very big achievement.”

The firm adopted a conservative buying strategy for the fall and winter 09 seasons but is now reporting an increase in sales across its 88 Middle East outlets.

“Towards the end of 2009 – December onwards and into January – we started to see that business was improving. We had a lot of visitors over Christmas and the New Year and the holidays in the GCC countries, so it was a very positive sign,” El Khatib said.

“There is a return of interest and I think it’s going to be an upward trend from here.”

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