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EGYPT’s luxury market makes promissing steps

Cairo

Perceived mostly as a tourist destination attracting middle class Western tourists and for its mass market industries, Egypt’s luxury industry has been developing steadily and constantly in the past three years. The Egyptian luxury market caters mostly for its local wealthy people, the majority of them residing in Cairo. According to several reports issued this year, 5% of the 84 million inhabitants are in control of 25% of the country’s GDP.

Hospitality, SPA and cars are the most developed luxury sectors in Egypt, with most international luxury brands already present in the market. Two luxury Four Seasons hotels compete with a historical Oberoi, a large JW Marriott and the recently opened contemporary luxury Kempinski Nile and Fairmont Nile hotels.

Over half of the traffic in these luxury hotels is business, the rest being leisure. Other five star hotels include: 2 Fairmont properties, Sofitel, 2 InterContinental and 2 Hilton. Except with the Four Seasons Nile Plaza, Fairmont Nile, Kempinski and InterContinental City Stars which are in very good condition, most of the other hotels need extensive renovations. There are no stand alone SPA’s, most of them being situated within the major luxury hotels. The best rated day SPA’s are located within the two Four Seasons hotels. The most important upcoming luxury hotel opening in Cairo will the Ritz Carlton Cairo, a former hotel which is now under renovation.

As for the auto industry, most luxury brands such as BMW, Mercedes Benz and Audi have showrooms in Cairo. It is said that Egypt has the highest number of Mercedes Benz sales in the entire African continent. There are 8 registered Ferraris, 6 Bentley’s and 3 Rolls Royce. The yachting sector has been picking up in the past two years with regular events organized several times a year.

Fashion & accessories are probably the least developed luxury sectors in Egypt, with just a few international brands with mono-brand franchised stores: Ermenegildo Zegna, Bally, Burberry (opened in November 2010), Salvatore Ferragamo, Escada,Iceberg, Hugo Boss. With the exception of Burberry which has a street location in the downtown Mohandseen area, most of the other brands are divided between the City Star Mall (medium brands) and the upmarket First Mall. The shops within the First Mall, one of the first in Cairo have an outdated condition, many requiring renovation.

The most important multi-brand stores are locally owned EGO situated in the Heliopolis district and the Turkish – Egyptian joint venture BEYMEN, located within the Four Season Nile Plaza Hotel. Beymen was opened in 2005 and EGO was opened in 2006.

With a surface of over 2.000 sqm, Beymen has an open area corner concept divided on two floors in women’s young collections (D&G, Chep by Chic Moschino, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Sonya by Sonya Rykiel, Emporio Armani, True Religion etc), women’s evening and elegant (Dior, Dolce Gabbana, Giorgio Armani, Gucci, Marc Jacobs), women’s accessories (Dior, Dolce Gabbana, Fendi, Bottega Veneta, Jimmy Choo) and men’s (Giorgio Armani, Armani Collezioni, Canali, Tod’s, Gucci, Canali, Corneliani, Prada; children wear (Baby Dior) and home-wear (Hermes). In spite of the good brand mix and the beautiful interior design (very modern, spacious and elegant), Beymen’s performance has been decreasing in the past two years, losing its appeal  to local wealthy customers, the main reasons being the poor customer service standard, selection of merchandise and the over pricing policy. Another negative feauture of Beymen is the fact that they tend to mix new collections with old stocks, which they sell at ‘’new’’ prices.

Egyptian owned EGO multibrand store is situated in a stand alone building on three floors in the district of Heliopolis. On a surface of 3.500 sqm, EGO presents in a black grey modern stone and mirror concept men’s and women’s collections, both young/casual and luxury lines. The groundfloor is dedicated to women’s accessories, shoes and bags: Jimmy Choo, Chloe, Yves Saint Laurent, Tod’s, Marc Jacobs. The main men’s brands: Corneliani, Brioni, Canali, Polo Ralph Lauren. Women’s apparel brands include: Marc Jacobs, Armani Collezioni, Armani Jeans, M Missoni. EGO has had a more aggressive marketing strategy in the past years and has also benefited from its location. The company plans to open two new stores with a similar concept next year.

 

Choosing the right brand, the right location and ensuring a high standard of customer service are crucial for the success of any luxury brand in an emerging market such as Egypt. CPP’s review report of the luxury market in Egypt will also include an analysis of the existing and upcoming retail locations and a comparison. There are two major new malls schedule to open in 2011, the Cairo Festival Mall and Arabia Mall, this way ending the monopoly position which City Stars Cairo Mall has enjoyed in the past three years. Rents in the malls remain much higher than in Dubai, at an average of USD 1.000/sqm. Eight other malls are announced for 2012-2013. Even if the downtown area might seem an obvious choice for a luxury store, the key areas are in New Cairo, October 6 and Heliopolis. These are also the main areas where the wealthy consumers live and considering the distances and heaviy traffic in a capital city of 24 million inhabitants, it might take more than one hour from any of these neighbourhoods to the downtown area. The downtown area also has the disadvantage of being a mix of various shops, therefore a jewellery shop might stand along a grocery or fastfood. That is why, the choice for the Burberry location downtown might seems rather odd, appearing like an isolated store.  

CPP has interacted with most of the retailers as well as with over 50 wealthy consumers and they all highlighted the strong demand for other top international luxury brands, ideally with a mono-brand presence. Speaking to the fashion editor of the leading financial newspaper, she also revealed that the multi-brand concepts have eroded the local luxury fashion market, most consumers preferring to make their shopping abroad, the most popular destination being Paris.

The watches & jewellery sectors are dominated by a major local retailer which operates several multi-brand boutiques as well as mono-brand (Rolex in the First Mall, Chopard at Grand Hyatt). The Bvlgari monobrand boutique is operated by another local retailer and is situated within the Four Seasons Hotel. In the multi-brand boutiques, most of the major international luxury brands are present, both watches and jewellery. Despite the development of the sector, sales do not reflect the real potential of the market, as many wealthy Egyptians still prefer to buy their luxury watches and jewellery abroad, especially in Europe. One of the reasons could be the pricing, which is at least 20 to 25% higher than in Europe, due to the custom which varies between 35-40%. Egyptians are also able to buy tax free in Europe, this is therefore another major incentive.

Luxury fragrances & cosmetics and the gourmet market will also be included in the review report.  

CPP Luxury Industry Management Consultants Ltd is currently working on a comprehensive review report of the Egyptian luxury market, with an analysis of all luxury sectors and an in depth analysis of the consumer profile. The review report is likely to be released in February 2010.

Oliver Petcu

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