By Gavin Gibbon
CEO Patrick Chalhoub revealed business is gradually recovering to about 60% of pre-Covid levels
The Chalhoub Group, which distributes luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton and Dior, achieved its 2025 ecommerce target in a single month during the Covid-19 pandemic.
CEO Patrick Chalhoub told the Ai Everything conference at the World Trade Centre that the business had been decimated by coronavirus, during government lockdown measures introduced in March and April.
He said: “During the period of lockdown, our business went down from 100 to nearly zero.”
However, he revealed an increase in ecommerce activities during this time, coupled with private sales, saw the business recover to operate at 20 percent pre-Covid levels.
“We reached our ecommerce target of 2025 in one month,” he said. “We have been able to multiply our ecommerce abilities by six, but it (business) was still minus 80 percent.”
The Chalhoub Group is a major player in the beauty, fashion and gift sectors regionally.
Last year the group closed 60 stores across the Middle East and although figures have improved since the lockdown earlier this year, Chalhoub said business was down 60 percent in May and 40 percent in June and is “probably” sitting at that figure now in July.
According to the UAE Ecommerce Landscape report issued in June last year by VISA, the UAE retail industry – classified into store and non-store sales, which include ecommerce – is estimated to be worth $63.8 billion by 2023. The ecommerce segment is classified under non-store retailing, which encompasses online shopping, direct selling, mobile internet, social media and home shopping and is forecast to grow by 78 percent from 2018 to 2023.
Chalhoub added that he expects the “return to normality” to take place around the second or third quarter of 2021. “In the meantime we will probably have to live with this pandemic, but we will have probably learned much more in how to act and how to react and how we can connect better with our customer and consumer and how we deal with this situation,” he said.