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Old December 19th, 2009, 02:09 AM   #401
allobeirut
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If you check out Aishti magazine at www.aishti.com they wrote an article about the artist, i think he's from new york
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Old December 19th, 2009, 06:37 AM   #402
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Boutique's new boom
By Mona Alami
Exclusive luxury floods Beirut fueling a frenzy of new chains


For international luxury retailers battered by the financial crisis in Europe and the United States, the Middle East has an enduring allure and has remained, in spite of weakening sales figures, an essential market. Unlike other countries in the region, Lebanon’s luxury retail sector has shown resilience and solid growth in 2009, with the sector also seeing dramatic structural changes.

In 2003, the Middle East retail industry was valued at some $200 billion; by the end of 2008 this value had swelled to more than $400 billion, according to a report by the Bharat Book Bureau, a market research firm. While Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are seen as the most vital markets for retailers in the Middle East — a role they are expected to maintain in the coming years — Lebanon seems to have slowly emerged from its slumber, with many luxury retailers launching stores in Beirut.

“The luxury retail industry is a billion dollar sector in Lebanon,” says Wajdi Abdel Hadi, Vertu’s regional manager for the Middle East and South Africa. “Lebanese are known for having a penchant for luxury and branded items, which accounts for Lebanon being one of our most successful regions.”

“The future of Lebanon’s luxury retail is being drawn today, as can be seen in the flurry of new exclusive stores that are opening in the downtown area,” says Izzat Traboulsi, managing director of Hugo Boss for the Middle East.

The country’s retail industry is transforming rapidly, driven by changing market dynamics and increased political stability: a key element to Lebanon’s investment appeal.

The wealth of Lebanon’s massive expatriate population, who are avid luxury customers and often return home to shop, as well as the formation and aggressive expansion of large luxury retail groups — such as Aishti, Middle East Luxury Group (MELG), E and E, Malia and Rodeo Drive — have contributed to the growth momentum.

“We have been able to maintain our growth from 2008 to 2009, in spite of the economic crisis,” says Toni Traboulsi, executive manager of MELG, which boasts high-end brands such as Gianfranco Ferre, Just Cavalli, Giuseppe Zanotti, Plus IT and 109 multi-brand stores.

A year for growth

Roger Mrad, owner of the Wadih Mrad multi-brand watch stores — agents of Cartier, Panerai, Piaget, Chanel, Zenith, Frederique Constant, Bell & Ross and Dunhill — confirmed Traboulsi’s statement, adding that in spite of the fact that Lebanon’s luxury retail figures did not improve from 2008 to 2009, they fared much better than other countries in the region, which were plagued by sales losses — averaging between 40 percent and 60 percent in the luxury watches segment alone.

Chucri Cavalcanti, managing director of the Elie Saab Group, explained that at the beginning of the crisis sales in the ready-to-wear segment were affected for a minimal period of time, but the haute couture segment remained unscathed.

“Now that we are emerging out of this crisis, there is a definite up-turn in growth,” says Vertu’s Hadi. “Luxury brands are continuing to pour into the market, which is definitely a good sign.”

Karen Nehme, brand manager at Ferragamo, estimates that 2009 was extremely successful in term of turnover, and a year that brought “huge growth to the Ferragamo brand in Lebanon.”

Christiane Boustany, business manager of the fashion division at Malia Holding — a Lebanon-based organization that is part owners of companies such as Secret Pon-Pon, Mariella Burani, Sebastian shoes, Paul & Shark, Miss Sixty and the Facco jewelry brand — believes growth for the group’s luxury segment was in double-digit figures in 2009. Izzat Traboulsi puts this figure at 15 percent for the same period for the Hugo Boss Group.

“Sales literally took off in the last year, growing by as much as 30 percent,” says Grace Sehnaoui, brand manager at E and E, a company that owns franchises such as Tod’s, Hogan, Kamishibai, Vilebrequin and Pebbles.

Most luxury retailers interviewed by Executive showed optimism toward their future in Lebanon, so long as political stability was maintained.


“Sales by luxury retailers can achieve a 10 percent to 15 percent improvement in performance next year,” predicts Izzat Traboulsi — a figure that concurs with the regional estimation forecasted by the Bharat Book Bureau, which foresees growth of 14 percent in the Middle East between 2009 and 2013.

Boosted by solid growth figures in 2009, the Lebanese luxury retail sector regained its former dynamism, morphing dramatically to dovetail back into the Middle East’s retail culture, where smaller outlets have been progressively replaced by mega shopping malls.

The changing consumer demographics in Lebanon — with the emergence of a significant population of young professionals, largely employed in the oil-rich Gulf — accounted for an estimated $7 billion in remittances in 2009, helping to fuel the trend. This evolution translated to a shift from the traditional multi-brand stores to mono-brand luxury boutiques.

In Beirut’s downtown area, exclusive names such as Fendi, Dior, Feretti, Dolce and Gabana are popping up in the Carré d’or, or the “Golden Quarter,” stretching between Foch and Allenby streets.

Rumor has it that the Gharzouzi family is opening a Hermes store, one of the most exclusive luxury brands — it was the highest scoring in the Luxury Brand Status Index — while Louis Vuitton also seems to be joining the Beirut fray, choosing the Lebanese capital to host one of its new stores.

“Mono-brand stores are a matter of brand identity and image for luxury retailers, they do not compete with clients of multi-brand stores. On the contrary, they tend to push sales of products carried by multi-brand retailers,” says Mrad. “As an example, our turnover of Cartier watches increased by 27 percent when the Cartier boutique first opened.”

Boutique uber-alles

With the launching of mono-brand stores in Lebanon requiring larger investments, a semi-monopoly of segments of the luxury retail sector seems to be taking place.

“Small companies built on one or two brands can hardly survive in such a competitive environment and will eventually lose their representation,” says Boustany. As an example, Hugo Boss, which used to be distributed through one retailer, has started opening its own stores and diversified its points of sales.

“It is a matter of cost effectiveness,” says Toni Traboulsi from MELG. “Large groups have the infrastructure and the means to handle various brands. In such a framework, one buyer’s expenses can be spread over the budgets of several boutiques, thus minimizing costs significantly across the board. Additionally, management fees are also divided among the various stores and cost centers carried by one ‘mother’ holding company, making the process much more profitable.”

In spite of the growing enthusiasm of international fashion houses for mono-brand stores, Sehnaoui does not believe the trend is indicative of the imminent death of the multi-brand store in Lebanon.

“A few years ago we started witnessing a slow erosion of the multi-brand store concept. But recently it appears that the trend is reversing with a return to multi-brand boutiques,” she says. Sehnaoui underlined, however, that a growing problem for luxury multi-brand retailers around Lebanon resides in the fact that some fashion houses, which have been significantly affected by the global economic crisis, are distributing their products to more than one retailer, contributing to the cannibalization of brands.

“It is difficult for international brands to understand that Lebanese retailers are, contrary to ones operating in other countries, limited by geographical constraints, due to the country’s small size,” says Sehnaoui. “As an example, a brand which is carried by a store in Verdun, ideally should not be carried by a competitor in Ashrafieh, because both areas are so close in distance.”


Another problem faced by retailers lies in the fact that most mono-brand stores opening in Lebanon are operated through franchise contracts, imposing strict requirements pertaining to size, location, number of boutiques, decoration, budget and other targets.

“The promotional strategy imposed by the franchisor is sometimes not suitable to the particularities of the local market,” says Nehme.

Too much of a good thing?

“There is a general feeling in the retail business that some investors are opening stores randomly,” notes Izzat Traboulsi. “However, due to the country’s size and unstable environment, a multi-store approach for luxury brands, one that requires very high turnover that can only be generated by increasing tourist clientele, is still not sustainable. Such an approach will ultimately lead to market saturation in Lebanon.”

Traboulsi underscored that luxury brands require volume in order to survive, implying a heavy reliance on tourism: a sector directly linked to political stability.

Mrad shares his concern, warning, “Luxury brands stores require a constant infusion of new blood and are not profitable if they solely rely on the local population.”

However, this has not stopped retailers from expanding, with giant fashion groups such as Chalhoub and Boutique One opening stores in Beirut, while home-grown talent such as Elie Saab opening in fashion capitals like Paris and London.

“Our international expansion and the establishment of stores in major cities around the world has helped greatly in increasing the awareness of the Elie Saab brand,” says the Saab group’s Managing Director Cavalcanti, “And with it, certainly the appreciation for Lebanon’s luxury culture.”
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Old January 2nd, 2010, 05:09 AM   #403
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Old January 3rd, 2010, 05:43 AM   #404
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Courtesy of Ahraf N. (taken Dec 31)
[IMG]http://i47.************/2zjhs8n.jpg[/IMG]
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Old January 3rd, 2010, 10:05 PM   #405
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Courtesy of georgek7 (taken today)

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Old January 4th, 2010, 01:29 AM   #406
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dosent seem to be getting big crowds....
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Old January 4th, 2010, 04:22 AM   #407
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They should have sped up construction so they could have opened it this summer, it would have made more sense launching it in July (imo)
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Old January 4th, 2010, 04:28 AM   #408
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It will be my second home this summer.
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Old January 4th, 2010, 09:12 PM   #409
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jayme View Post
dosent seem to be getting big crowds....
it seems that this place is for the over class people, many international names mean very expensive stuffs...
Any way, I heard that H&M (Swedish store) will open soon, they have very fashionable stuffs for reasonable prices...
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Old January 4th, 2010, 10:23 PM   #410
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i think it is already open !!!
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Old January 5th, 2010, 05:24 AM   #411
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Courtesy of me:





















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Old January 9th, 2010, 08:48 AM   #412
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Old January 9th, 2010, 02:16 PM   #413
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i have seen some greenery on the roof down there(am i right). it's a new concept in lebanon. it's vey good idea to minimize the global warming but it sould be in a larger scale.
i hope that we can see more greenery on the roofs of Lebanon buildings
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Old January 9th, 2010, 06:25 PM   #414
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How long will that orange "art" be there? I dont think it fits in at all and it's a huge distraction.
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Old January 10th, 2010, 02:45 AM   #415
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Quote:
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How long will that orange "art" be there? I dont think it fits in at all and it's a huge distraction.
whaaaat?!!! a huge distraction? from what?! the shopping centre? i think it livens it up! its a great focal point. and its nice to see they're taking an interest in commisioning artwork!
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Old January 10th, 2010, 04:03 PM   #416
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Taken Jan 09

Wonderful!
image hosted on flickr
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Old January 10th, 2010, 06:43 PM   #417
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Awesome looks like the store is tilted tho LOL
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Old January 10th, 2010, 08:08 PM   #418
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Taken Jan 09

Wonderful!
image hosted on flickr
I think this store is big
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Old January 10th, 2010, 11:41 PM   #419
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Nike launched its first Women store in the Levant

by Rouba Zebian - Ogilvy



Beirut, 8 January 2010 - Today, USL, Nike exclusive distributor in Lebanon, opened a Women Store at the Beirut Souks in the heart of Lebanon. This exceptional concept store is situated in one of the most vibrant and visited shopping destinations in Beirut and brings the Nike brand to life in 172 square meter of retail space. Designed to cater and pamper the Lebanese ladies athletes, the new Nike Women Store will support them with their on and off field needs.


This new development marks the launch of a new concept where all Lebanese women will now have complete access to Nike's latest Sport and lifestyle, innovative lines especially designed and showcased for them. The store is a non-stop celebration of sports where all the Lebanese women will be able to satisfy their needs for a professional and fashionable training.

"We are committed to offering Women, any product they wear for their specific performance and style needs,'" says Christine Harb, Brand Manager for Nike. "The new Nike Women Store will allow us to share our complete women collection with all Lebanese athletes in a new feminine and dynamic setting."

The store design is feminine and unique by concept. The materials, shapes and fixtures throughout the store are inspired by women and are very practical. Nike Women store will attract women of all ages and styles and will captivate them with the warmth provided by the lights, the furniture, the spacious dressing rooms and all products that go with their desires.
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Old January 10th, 2010, 11:47 PM   #420
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Wow that's so cool! And the Burberry store looks awesome!
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