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Qatar is keen for another

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slice of Mango

ango is a Spanish clothing company based in the Catalan city of Barcelona. It has more than 1,500 stores in 92 countries, located on five continents, with seven of those outlets here in Doha. Mango’s Executive Vice President of International Expansion, Isak Halfon, talks about the Group’s current activities and ambitions in Qatar and beyond.

How important is the Qatari market to Mango? Qatar represents 1.5% of our whole turnover and we now have seven stores in the country. So it's a very good market. First of all we have a very good partner in the Al Mana Group which is very professional and takes care of business. We have more business in Qatar than in Kuwait, and Kuwait is a bigger market than Qatar.

That's perhaps because Qatar is a more diverse and 'multicultural' country than Kuwait? Qatar's population is very small. When we opened the first store here in 1997, I was not expecting to have seven stores by now. And we might open a eighth store next year. So we are delighted with the market.

In the Middle East as a whole, how would you evaluate shoppers' reaction to Mango?

We started business in the Middle East with our first store in 1997. I didn't know what kind of market it was. The first was in Dubai, then in Kuwait, then Qatar. I was surprised with the reaction of the people. For the first store in Qatar, we had a low-key opening and everybody 66

Qatar Today september10

Isak Halfon, Executive Vice President of International Expansion, Mango


market watch was just trying to buy something. It was amazing and I realised that the market is big here, that our brand was in demand. To be honest, I was not expecting to have such success in the Middle East.

Why not?

First of all, maybe they knew the brand from Europe. The brand is strong in Spain, Italy and Germany, France and the UK too. Because I thought Arab people being oriented to fashion and loving their designer brands, maybe at that time there were only English brands in the Middle East. When we came we brought a sense of something fresh to the region.

How do you balance being ‘fashion forward’ and being a ready-to-wear brand?

We have a design centre in Barcelona. We are very focused on this side and we

have over 600 people just working towards developing our products. These are our best assets. We try to get the best trends on time for the customer, so numerous people are involved in the design process. We fol-

“In two to three years, we hope to open 250 stores a year. We will end up with 3,000 stores in five or six years, hopefully” low the trends but we always try to keep it to our ‘own style’ throughout the collection. Seeing the positive reaction we have had from the Middle East market, we hired a Lebanese designer – Zuhair Murad – to bring an exclusive collection to our Middle Eastern stores.

Have you ever thought of producing some kind of culturallyoriented design?

We don't need to. Asia knows the western brands. For the Middle East, we know it is special. We know it is a great market. Almost nine percent of our turnover is from Middle East. So it's a huge market for us.

Where do you see yourself five years from now?

Fifteen to 20 years back we didn't imagine having more than 1,500 stores as we have now. In two to three years, we hope to open 250 stores a year. We will end up with 3,000 stores in five or six years, hopefully. We want to start launching the men's collection. We already did this in Kuwait, at two stores in Dubai, and in Doha very soon. We do have a lighter winter collection – we need to in certain climates! n

“THE First half of 2010 was excellent”

Mario Faluh, General Manager, Al Mana Fashion Group, the local dealers of Mango in Qatar, lends us his view on additional aspects of the Mango story in Doha

2009 was said to be a bad year for retailers? How was it for Mango Qatar? Though 2009 was, globally, not too good a year for the retail world, Mango in Qatar was unaffected and we even saw an increase in sales over 2009. The first half of 2010 has been excellent for us. What would you say makes Mango popular in the region? Mango is a very popular brand worldwide; our customers are trendy and fashion-conscious. One of the many secrets of the success of Mango is that it is able to offer new, fashionable, product to clientele, on a weekly basis. Basically, anytime a client visits a Mango store she is bound to find something new. What plans does Mango have in Qatar for 2011? As Isak Halfon mentioned, we are looking into the possibility of opening a new store in Qatar. Mango is

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Qatar Today september10

full of surprises and you will also witness of a couple of major events that will take place next year promoting Mango fashion in this country. Tell us about the ‘Mango Touch’ store concept? Within the last couple of years we have opened three ‘Mango Touch’ accessories stores across Doha. ‘Mango Touch’ offers a wide variety of accessories to customers. Forty percent of these accessories are already available in our regular stores, while 60% are designed exclusively for the ‘Mango Touch’ outlets. When and where will Mango be offering their men’s collection in the country? At the moment, the Mango men’s collection is not available in Qatar. However, due to high demand, we are planning to open our first ‘HE’ by Mango store by February/March 2011 in one of the bigger malls.

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That's perhaps because Qatar is a more diverse and 'mul- ticultural' country than Ku- wait? market watch Isak Halfon, Executive Vice Preside...