UK-based online fashion brand Missguided has collaborated with MENA retail giant Azadea Group on a franchise deal to open 15 stores in the region in the next three years, including online stores and an app.
The brand, which sells fast, affordable fashion, is primarily online, but currently has three concessions within physical Selfridges stores in the UK. It is set to open in Dubai first by the end of this year, followed by Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Lebanon.
Nitin Passi, founder and CEO, explains the firm’s expansion to brick and mortar.
“[Physical stores] are a great showcase for the brand. We don’t have plans to open hundreds of physical retail stores, but we want to open a couple of flagship stores,” he said in an exclusive interview with Arabian Business.
"Online is our focus and that is what our business is about. Our customers want to shop online retail, but it is a great opportunity for us to open a [physical] franchise in the UAE.
Missguided offers international shipping to the UAE and is available on local platform Namshi, which offers next day delivery. But Passi says the demand is enough to warrant a wider presence in the region.
“We’re already a pretty successful brand in the UK and we’ve got a growing business in the US and Europe, but in the Middle East, [the market] is pretty much untapped. We do a little bit of business there but not a huge amount. In the last three years, we’ve seen a lot of growth with one of our wholesale partners which is Namshi.com,” he said.
Store locations have not yet been revealed. While the rise of e-commerce has seen a number of malls close down in countries such as the US, it remains an upcoming market compared to physical retail in MENA.
“The reality is there is a shift from brick and mortar to online, but customers are still shopping in store and I think it’s still a great opportunity for customers to interact with a brand and touch and feel its products. From what I’ve seen, the mall culture is still very much dominant in the Middle East, and e-commerce is a much smaller part of the mix,” said Passi.
However, he claimed the brand will remain predominantly online, as many retailers make the mistake of ‘having too many [physical] stores,’ he said.
The founder did not confirm whether Missguided will continue to sell on Namshi following the launch.
Salim Fakhouri, president of fashion division at Azadea Group, said the parties signed a deal via a mutual friend.
“Missguided is the talk of the town in the UK. It is a differentiated brand. Given that Azadea has been bringing differentiated brands to the region for the last 30 years, we identified that Missguided should be one of them,” he said.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.
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