Dubai: It’s been a year now since Casa Milano, UAE’s premier luxury sanitary-ware retailer, opened its doors in the UAE. The inspiration was to provide unique luxury-ware products through Casa Milano in the UAE market, along with good service. Casa Milano is a concept, which caters to the 360-degree luxury bathroom requirements. Our priority is to understand our customer’s needs and showcase some of the world’s top brands. Our showroom is designed to give our visitors a complete feeling of being surrounded by a congregation of world-class amenities. It boasts a touch-and-feel concept and this attribute is intensified by the state-of-the-art, exquisite products such as 24-carat gold tiles, diamond bathtubs, hands-on experience of live showers, bathtubs, and Corian, which are rarely found. We have a diverse mix of uniquely designed washbasins, showers, mixers, tiles and slabs and solid surfaces manufactured by over 40 of the world’s top-notch brands including Tonino Lamborghini, Versace, Roberto Cavalli, Villeroy and Boch, Maison Valentina, Grespania, Corian, Quartz and Corà.
It generally takes at least three years for a business to get a foothold in the market or break even, but Casa Milano proved its metal in the first year despite the pandemic. Azhar Sajan, the director took up the challenge to overcome all the hurdles and strike gold in the first year itself.
The real challenge
Sajan reminisces, I still remember my father’s words clearly on the launch day of my showroom. He said, “the first task of opening the showroom is well done, but your real challenge starts from tomorrow when you open the doors to your clients”. My first target was to create brand awareness of Casa Milano’s showroom to the right audience as we were targeting a very niche category of people.
The first step the young entreperneur took was to reach out to potential customers through different digital mediums, such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, print media and hoardings at the right places.
"Our sales had started picking up from the start, and we were also learning with each and every step. So when the pandemic struck things got stagnant with the precautionary lockdown measures. With the movement restrictions within the country during Ramadan and people being unable to travel, it made them think as to how they could improvise their homes. This led to a gradual increase in our sales. Covid – 19 gave an opportunity to a lot of people to modify their house as they got enough time at home to think of revamp plans," he says.
"When the entire UAE was shut, we realised that we need to be more digitally sound, regardless of the kind of business we are in, to showcase to the world our offerings. Yes the sales were down but we were determined to pull through. We took it as first of the many challenges that we have to surpass. In line with the UAE’s Vision to fight every challenge and bounce back, Casa Milano too has succeeded in overcoming the challenges posed by Covid-19."
Range of products
Sajan says, Covid-19 definitely impacted a lot of businesses in the UAE, but what separated us from businesses was that we had we had kept certain levels of stock for each item. We had more of disinfectant and hygiene products that were urgently required in the market, such as touchless dispensers, sensor mixers. Moreover, during the lockdown many people wanted to redesign their homes and create a fresh look. So, we ensured that we prepared well in advance and had a proper stock.
"I was confident that with the help of my strong team, we will pass the acid test of Covid-19 and we did not stop our imports even though the showroom was closed for a month. As soon as the showroom opened, as the customers wanted ready stock," he says
According to Sajan, "Even Covid-19 couldn’t dampen the country’s resilience spirit. The construction might have slowed down but it never stopped. I would like to commend the hard work put in by the construction workers who ensured that the 50-year vision of our leader Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai is being achieved. Our outdoor sales team reached out to all the construction sites and ensured that our products were specified by the consultants and approved by the client. Also we reached out to niche areas like Emirates hills, Dubai hills, Downtown Dubai where individual owners were refurbishing their houses."
"My father always told me that we need to tie-up with those brands who become our long-term partners and have the same mindset for mutual benefit, and I am making sure to partner with brands for a long-term association. Luxury is like selling dreams, and my goal is to fulfill the dreams of all our clients," he says.