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Falling oil prices, job losses and possible mortgage defaults by borrowers are casting a shadow over Dubai’s real estate boom, but the Persian Gulf enclave continues to attract upscale retailers.
This story first appeared in the December 23, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Temperley London is the latest company to bring its upscale brand to the desert. The brand on Dec. 15 opened its first store in the Middle East, a 2,500-square-foot unit in the Dubai Mall. The store’s design is sufficiently grand with an elaborate marble floor, original 19th century French antiques, custom-made chandeliers and Temperley London fabrics.
Bloomingdale’s is set to open a store at the Dubai Mall in 2010. Christian Dior plans to launch its second store in Dubai. Viktor & Rolf, in partnership with Villa Moda, will open units in Dubai and other cities in the region.
Temperley London plans to launch two stores in the United Arab Emirates in 2009, with further development planned for the region. The company is partnering with the Dubai-based Alabbar family for the venture. Salama Alabbar will oversee Temperley London’s Middle East expansion through a new company, Symphony LLC.
Her father, Mohammed Alabbar, chairman of Emaar Group, a large property developer, and director general of Dubai’s Department of Economic Development, has been instrumental in the transformation of Dubai over the past decade.
The Temperley London store in Dubai offers ready-to-wear, including Black Label, accessories and a bridal boutique as well as a VIP area. A spokeswoman for Temperley London said customers in the Middle East “tend to buy more Black Label pieces and have garments made for them.” The store offers exclusive products for the Dubai location such as embroidered Abbayas, existing styles in new colorways, exclusive beachwear and specialty skin handbags.
The company is bullish “about our prospects in the Middle East,” said Lars von Bennigsen, founding partner and chief executive officer of Temperley London. “Over the past few years we have seen explosive growth in the region and we expect to be able to build a significant presence there. Partnering with the Alabbar family is a fantastic opportunity as they have established themselves as a driving force in the region and represent a solid and powerful partner for the long term.”