AZERBAIJAN – an expert insight into a growing luxury market
Aziz Balayev, Director of Business Development of SINTEKS, leading luxury fashion and accessories retailer in Azerbaijan shares with CPP-LUXURY.COM, in an exclusive interview, his insights on this very dynamic luxury market.
CPP: SINTEKS has maintained its leading position of luxury retailer in Azerbaijan, despite the international financial crisis. What are the key structural elements of your business which have contributed to the stability and growth of your business?
A.B.: The key factors of our stability are the market knowledge and experience. Our company has been established in the nineteen’s. Since then we worked on to create a sustainable company structure with a highly motivated sales associates supported by the professionals in back office. In a crises time we just switched to a different work schedule, we became more active in day-to-day business, demanding the sales managers to straighten the market position and react properly on any market threats. We have run a massive training and customer service programmes. Our marketing campaigns became more aggressive and targeted. We are maybe the only company who didn’t decrease a purchase budgets. In the meanwhile I have to also underline the external factors and in particular the economy situation in Azerbaijan, which was not affected a lot by a world financial crisis and continue to growth in present days.
CPP: Please describe the basic profile of your typical customer
A.B.: Sinteks operate in a different field of retail, we have luxury brands but also more fashion oriented ones, we have classic menswear brands with strong heritage but also have denim focused brands for younger people. It would be difficult to describe a client profile in a short. Each brand has its own customer profile. But what do unify all of our clients in Baku is their addiction to look nice and knowledge in fashion.
CPP: Have you noticed any major changes in the luxury consumer profile in the past two years? What measures has your company taken?
A.B.: No many changes happened in the profile, but consumers became more intelligent, illegible and more distinctive in their choices. What we do is we run marketing campaigns with a clear message of the brand and image, so that the consumer can realize if they really follower or not.
CPP: Which are the brands that you operate in mono brand? Do you have plans to add other brands to your portfolio?
A.B.: Sinteks is currently operate Gucci, Dolce&Gabbana, Burberry, Emporio Armani, Ermenegildo Zegna, Kiton, Salvatore Ferragamo, Etro, D&G, Pal Zileri, Corneliani, Valentino, Escada, Marina Rinaldi and many other international brands. We are always open to discussion for a possible partnership project in Azerbaijan.
CPP: Which is the best-selling brand from your portfolio?
A.B.: The best performing brands in our portfolio are Burberry, Dolce&Gabbana, Ermenegildo Zegna.
CPP: What is the average shopping budget your loyal customers spend in one visit in your shops?
A.B.: It really varies and depended on the brand. I could roughly say the average shopping bag in our chain is in between of 800 euro and 1000 euro.
CPP: What was the evolution of your sales during the first 9 months of 2010 compared to the previous year? What is your outlook for the Christmas season?
A.B.: At the beginning of 2010 we were 10-15% below the sales of the previous year, but actually not for all the brands, just a few were declined. End of this year we expect to recover to the same level as in a last year.
CPP Which are the luxury industry sectors of the Azerbaijan market which present the biggest opportunities for growth?
A.B.: All the luxury industries are already well presented and still continue to growth in Azerbaijan, for example major hotel chains, cars, jewel, fashion…
CPP: Given your expertise and deep understanding of the Azerbaijani luxury market, as well as your databases of wealthy consumers, do you consider venturing into different luxury industry sectors?
A.B.: Obviously we always open to any proposal but tend to be more focused on retail of fashion.
CPP: What do you think is the motivation for the Azerbaijani clients to buy locally and not at international locations? How do you persuade them to keep buying locally?
A.B.: That’s a good question. People usually travel to big cities of London, Paris, Moscow, Milan etc. These cities are always overloaded with international tourists and due to a big flow the level of the service remain averagely satisfactory. In Baku we turn this disadvantage to our advantage and keep going to provide a level of the service at a high standard. We know every consumer in face and provide a really VIP service at every transaction.
CPP: Which is the most effective marketing tool to reach luxury consumers these days, especially considering the stressful general economical environment?
A.B. We obviously follow the global trend and use more digital marketing in a present day, although the Direct Marketing remains also important for us.
CPP: What are your future plans for the business?
A.B.: Retail, Retail, Retail… Although we already start to expand our business to the neighbour countries, our idea is to widen the coverage of Sinteks and become more international.