Paris Gallery eyes South Africa expansion
CEO Mohammed AR Al Fahim
Dubai-based luxury retailer Paris Gallery, well known for its perfumes, is close to signing a deal to open two stores in South Africa in what will be the company’s first move outside the Middle East.
Paris Gallery CEO Mohammed Abdul Rahim Al Fahim told Arabian Business his long-term plan was to expand the family business into every major city in the world, including Paris, London, Milan and New York.
However his short-term focus was on strengthening the company’s presence in the Middle East, with several new stores opening each year.
He said while Africa was not in the company’s official plan, he was taking seriously an offer by investors in South Africa, who initially approached the company in 2008.
They were still in negotiations and assessing the market but Al Fahim said he expected to finalise a deal this year to open stores in both Johannesburg and Cape Town.
“This is progressing well,” he said.
“We believe the format of Paris Gallery … here in this region is very much attractive to the consumer [in South Africa].”
Al Fahim said he had received multiple requests to set-up in South Africa since 2008 but the timing had not been right until now.
“We’ve had a lot of requests in the past. I’ve made a visit before but we preferred to wait a little longer; now it’s becoming more serious,” he said.
Paris Gallery, which turns over about US$1 billion worth of perfume, cosmetics and other products each year, already has nearly 30 stores and is planning to open more this year.
In October 2012, the company signed a deal allowing Al Handal Group to open five franchise stores in Iraq over the next three years in what was the first expansion outside of the GCC.
Al Fahim said he was regularly approached by investors seeking to franchise Paris Gallery in their country but the company was diligent about where it launched.
“In each country we want our partner there to be successful so it’s not like we open a shop, we open a story of success and a place where we can grow and expand,” he said.
“We do get a lot of enquiries and requests to open in lots of countries which we don’t have in our plan. That doesn’t mean we’re going to reject it totally. It’s worth looking at it, understanding those countries, how they’re developing and progressing when it comes to the economy, political stability, the economic structure and specifically [how the] cosmetics and perfumes sector is developing.
“There would be some countries that are not within the plan but are very much progressing and we take it seriously.
“We believe the company’s capabilities are increasing and [it’s] becoming more capable of competing in very competitive markets beyond the GCC and Middle East.
“We’re already leading in many sectors in our business in the GCC, so the next step is to move into the Middle East countries beyond the GCC and this is what we’re trying to do in the next 3-5 years.
“After that [we want] to be more international.”