Yves Saint Laurent in Deal With Al Tayer for Direct UAE Entry

Move signals the importance of the Middle East region to the house's expansion ambitions.

PARIS — Signaling the importance of the Middle East region to its expansion ambitions, Yves Saint Laurent said it has established a joint venture with Dubai-based Al Tayer Insignia, allowing it to directly enter the United Arab Emirates.

This story first appeared in the March 28, 2013 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Previously, YSL was present in the region via a franchise agreement with Al Tayer that was established in 2003.

At present, the French fashion house boasts stand-alone stores in Marina Mall in Abu Dhabi and the Mall of the Emirates in Dubai, along with corners in Harvey Nichols and Bloomingdale’s in Dubai, plus a shop-in-shop within Level Shoe District at The Dubai Mall.

The new joint venture, headquartered in Dubai, plans to open a flagship Abu Dhabi store at Sowwah Square later this year.

Part of Al Tayer Group, a UAE-based diversified business conglomerate, Al Tayer Insignia operates more than 35 international luxury brands and nearly 80 stores in the region, including Bloomingdale’s and the largest Harvey Nichols outside the U.K. at the Mall of the Emirates in Dubai. Al Tayer also has operations in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Qatar.

Paul Deneve, chief executive officer of Yves Saint Laurent, said “now is the time” to enhance the company’s presence even more in the Middle East, “in order to offer our customers a renewed experience with the Saint Laurent brand.”

Khalid Al Tayer, ceo of retail at Al Tayer Group, called Saint Laurent “a favorite with the luxury connoisseur in the UAE. With this joint venture, we not only strengthen our relationship, but create a platform for the brand to extend its presence in the market.”

Earlier this month, Gucci said it had signed a memorandum of understanding to form a joint venture with Al Tayer Insignia. Gucci and YSL are among luxury brands controlled by French group Kering, previously known as PPR.