MILAN — Vowing to redefine the concept of one-stop luxury shopping, Kuwaiti retailer Sheikh Majed Al-Sabah plans to construct an 11-story emporium in his hometown of Kuwait City, offering everything from top-tier European brands to the chance to dabble in the stock market, store heirloom jewelry — or even get your teeth whitened.
Al-Sabah said he's secured $100 million in financing to realize "Metamorph," a futuristic building that will blend the Italian brands featured at his Villa Moda stores with French and other international names.
The 270,000-square-foot behemoth, slated for a soft opening in early 2007, will likely replace his existing Villa Moda flagship, a massive glass cube of a luxury mall opened with great fanfare three years ago in a remote dockside location.
However, Al-Sabah, whose retail development projects continue to multiply, said he also might convert that location to a "home and design" concept.
Al-Sabah unveiled his plans, with the retail concept and architecture all conceived in Japan, in an exclusive interview, also reiterating his bullish outlook for luxury in the region — flush with oil money and newfound political stability.
"We are proceeding at full speed," he said. "It is a very happy moment in the Middle East."
Although the retailer, attending the Milan collections this week, has delayed plans for a Mumbai, India, location for Villa Moda, he is pressing ahead with new outlets closer to home, also disclosing plans to open a 3,800-square-foot Villa Moda in the middle of the spice market in Damascus next spring.
He said sales at Villa Moda, which also operates locations in Qatar and Dubai, are above plan, currently totaling $45 million.
The new location, with substantially larger shop-in-shops for brands such as Gucci, Prada, Fendi, Salvatore Ferragamo, Etro and Marni, should bump up his Kuwait figures by about 30 to 40 percent, he said. In addition, Al-Sabah is in discussions with rival importers to bring in such brands as Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Hermès, Cartier, Chopard and Coach, among others. He said Metamorph would be operated by his real estate development arm, not Villa Moda.
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