By Lubna Hamdan
US shoemaking giant to open 20 stores in Saudi Arabia
US shoemaking giant Steve Madden is looking to the Middle East for growth and is set to open 20 stores in Saudi Arabia over the course of the next 1-2 years through the brand’s franchise operator Landmark Group.
The brand was founded by eponymous designer and businessman Steve Madden, who started the company in 1990 with $1,100 by selling shoes out of the trunk of his car. It now has 382 stores around the world and 40 in the GCC.
In Dubai, to celebrate the brand’s 30th anniversary, Madden told Arabian Business he sees further growth in the Middle East, particularly in Syria, Jordan and Egypt.
“The Middle East is very important. [There’s] a lot of fashion in the Middle East. We’ve sort of half way penetrated the Middle East. There are parts of the Middle East that we haven’t penetrated that I would like to grow in.
“We’re doing well in the Gulf but I was thinking more like Syria, Jordan, Egypt because there’s so much fashion,” he said.
While retailers around the world have been hit by a downturn and forced to shut down stores, Madden said his brand hasn’t closed any shops in the GCC, and is only expanding in the region.
“No [we haven’t closed stores in the Gulf] we’re just opening [stores] in the Gulf. We’re closing some in America because of e-commerce and rents, they don’t come down enough,” he said.
Madden, whose brand operates eight online stores, said e-commerce is affecting physical stores, particularly with customers increasingly shopping on their phones.
“We still think stores are important. We have tons of stores but certainly people are shopping from their phone, they’re shopping online so there will be an effect on stores.
“You don’t need to be that clever to figure that out but what you have to be clever about is how stores will look in the future and how do you truly become an omnichannel which is something we’re working very hard on.
“The phone has changed everything. It’s not very much the computer. It’s the phone that has changed everything. Nobody’s going home on their laptop – I mean some people are, but most people are on their phone, shopping. We want people to shop on their phone in our store because you can go in and buy it right there, because many times you’re out of the size on a great shoe and boom, you can buy it right here on the spot,” he said.
Steve Madden is the fastest growing retail brand in the Landmark Group portfolio, which includes the likes of Reiss, Lipsy and Koton. The Dubai-based group started with one store in Bahrain and now operates over 2,300 outlets across 22 countries.