Dubai: For anyone who associates fashion from Portugal solely with a Cristiano Ronaldo jersey, the Sacoor Brothers label is out to prove them wrong.
Here in the Gulf, the brand is making headway through new stores at select destination malls, which will add nicely to a network that already spans 33 cities and nine countries.
In line with this, Dubai is getting a fair deal of recent attention from the label, which takes its name from the four brothers who founded it. Outlets have opened in Mirdif City Centre and Dubai Mall, as well as a first-time entry into Kuwait as well.
Moez Sacoor, one of the brothers who heads the marketing side of things at the company, outlines how the brand intends to go about meeting its expansion plans and emerge as Portugal's most prominent brand of the last 20 years alongside, yes, Cristiano Ronaldo.
Gulf News: Some would say trying to draw shoppers' attention to a still relatively untested brand in the present market environment is going to be extremely difficult. What then explains your decision to expand the store network now?
Moez Sacoor: Sacoor Brothers entered the region in 2003-04 with a clear strategy for the Gulf markets. Ours was, and is, a long-term commitment to the region and now with six stores in Dubai alone, a store in Kuwait and proposed stores in Abu Dhabi and Qatar, the brand is now fairly established.
Our vision is to aggressively penetrate the region, (and) we are confident of getting the brand noticed by the consumer through a combination of the locations we have, the quality of our product and the unique services we offer.
I believe your outlet in Dubai Mall represents a direct investment on your part. Why did you decide to go the direct way?
Given our ambitious plans for the region and keeping in mind the rapid pace at which we propose to grow, we made a conscious decision to grow ‘organically' through corporate-owned stores for better control on our growth and delivery standards. It would be correct to say that our Dubai Mall store, is in effect, a corporate store.
Does it mean that all new outlets in the region will henceforth represent a direct investment from your side?
Absolutely, we have ambitious rollout plans and are looking at more than doubling our stores over the next two years. To achieve this target, we need to have maximum control on our investment strategies and delivery systems, which is best achieved through corporate-owned stores.
How many other markets have you covered in the Middle East? What about new ones?
We already have stores in Dubai and Kuwait, with plans to enter Qatar, Abu Dhabi and Bahrain over next three years and thereafter markets like Egypt.
Are you looking to expand into China and India?
We have great faith in the Asian markets with plans to enter Hong Kong and Singapore in the next 12 to 18 months. For India, we are actively evaluating our entry strategy.
Some of the biggest as well as aspiring international brands are vying for space and interest in the local and Middle East markets. Are you giving yourself a longer lead time in sighting the kind of returns you are expecting?
Yes, absolutely. We are here to stay and not looking at any short-term gains. We are confident about our brand, and the reaction of the consumer both in Dubai and in Kuwait has been very, very positive. We will invest in brand-building activity over the next few years while aggressively expanding our presence.
Is it too early to talk about whether you intend to bring in dedicated fashion lines for your regional outlets?
Our current merchandise is constantly being adapted to the local requirements in terms of size, colour and style preferences. Dedicated lines, over time, cannot be ruled out.
As our stores expand, we will be able to produce certain lines for the GCC. At this time we have enough width in our current product mix to cater to this market.
Which are the biggest sourcing markets for your merchandise?
We source from several markets, including Portugal, for merchandise. China, Hong Kong, Mauritius and India are the other sourcing markets, and we are constantly evaluating new opportunities.
Fashion retail is going through a testing phase in Europe. How would you assess your brand's performance in this territory?
Our confidence in the region has been reinforced by the performance of our existing stores which have witnessed strong sales and patronage even during the most trying period of the economic downturn.
We have grown in Europe over the last two years and continue to open new stores.
Could you give an indication of the kind of revenues the business expects to achieve at the end of this year? And in three years?
With each new store, we expect the business to show exceptional growth over the next three years. The figures, however, are confidential as we are a privately-owned business.