Luxury retail sales growth in UAE drives rebound for the entire Middle East region

Sales of the Chalhoub Group, leading Middle Eastern luxury retailer rose by 20% in the first 6 months of this year in comparison with the same period last year. The Chalhoub Group which portfolio includes over 280 luxury brands ( Christian Dior, Louboutin,  Louis Vuitton etc) opened 25 new outlets in the first half, with another 20 planned for the rest of the year. The firm has more than 350 stores throughout 14 countries in the Middle East.

In the UAE, sales grew by 26 percent compared to the first six months of 2009, helped by a 30 percent like-for-like hike in Abu Dhabi.Elsewhere, Saudi Arabia posted 14 percent sales growth, while Kuwait was ‘flat’, a senior official at the firm told Arabian Business.

“One of the good surprises for us was the performance of the stores in Dubai Mall, which were trading ahead of what we had expected. In addition, Riyadh was quite good, and Doha was also showing better figures,” said Fadi Jabbour, Chalhoub Group’s regional retail chief operating officer.

“We have come back again to the clientele that we had originally. We lost some of the tourists that we had – for instance the Russians are nowhere to be seen – but we are seeing some Chinese interest in places like Dubai Mall. But that will take some time to build up,” he stated.

The executive also said that the lack of available high-end retail space in the Abu Dhabi market meant that the Chalhoub Group would not be able to add further outlets into the UAE capital until 2012.

“But jewellery has been difficult last year, and continues to be so. There’s no mystery there,” he added.

“And then there are some brands that were not really in line with the peoples’ tastes. One of the difficulties we had was with Paul and Joe, for example. We like the brand, but it was over-present in the market.”

When asked whether the group would be adding to its family of brands in the second half, Jabbour replied: “We’re becoming extremely choosy on the brands we can add to the portfolio. Today, we are committing to expanding the Louboutin brand and Michael Kors, so for us this is more a period of consolidation.”