Dubai: Fashion changes all the time, but for the UAE’s leading business groups, interest in the business of apparel remains a constant. The Lals Group, which owns and manages the popular Lamcy Plaza and Arabian Centre malls, is making headway widening its interests in fashion brands and accessories. It has acquired the franchise rights for Lucky Brand, a Californian denim brand of fairly recent origin having come into being in 1990. The first store opened at Denim District, a dedicated cluster at The Dubai Mall, and Lals also holds the rights for Oman, Qatar and Bahrain.
“Sure, nearly all of the UK’s high-street brands have been present can be found in the UAE, but there are still plenty of emerging brands from the US, Canada or even the Far East that are not,” said Tina Oberoi, chief operating officer — franchise retail at Lals. “It creates good opportunities for local retailers to seek out new franchise possibilities.”
It was last year that Lals stepped up its own pace of franchise acquisitions, by bagging the FFC New York shoe brand. Following the Lucky Brand launch, attention will turn towards introducing another international label, but in the everyday fashion category.
“The margins in fashion are definitely good, even in the mid-market space, and in the UAE retailers tend to add a certain percentage over the price in the country of origin of the brand,” said Oberoi.
“Then there are the multiple shopping cycles following one after the other — in Dubai, for instance, there’s the DSF, DSS and Ramadan and that adds to the retailers’ options. If need be, this also creates conditions for retailers to work on the pricing and move stocks.”
The Lals Group has been the local retailer for the Bossini and G200 labels for quite some time now. More recently, they also picked up the children’s brands Carter’s and Oshkosh. “Before the split that created Lals Group and Al Maya Lal’s, the combined entity also had BHS — so retail was always a core part of Lals even though the Group has a diversified set of business lines,” said Oberoi.
“Now that there are prospects to pick up new international brands and introduce them to the Gulf markets, we will speed up the process. “Yes, the likes of Bossini and G2000 may be mature brands in the UAE context, but Bossini still comes up with 30 per cent quarter-on-quarter sales volumes.”
As for Lucky Brand, it has built up a point-of-sales presence in more than 2,000 locations, mostly in the US. Sixty per cent of its shopper base is women and Oberoi reckons it will be a similar split in the UAE as well. So, given its legacy, is Lucky all about being hip? “No, it’s bohemian coupled to a Californian lifestyle,” said Oberoi.
“The merchandising mix is such that it will hold an appeal for both women and men.”