The Middle East is Calvin country.
With 20 freestanding stores in the region, Calvin Klein has a large foothold in the Middle East, and is expanding its presence every season.
The brand’s stores in Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates already generate $50 million in sales annually. “Fortunately for us, the image and awareness for Calvin Klein are very strong,” said Tom Murry, president and chief operating officer of Calvin Klein Inc.
The booming economic environment in many cities throughout the Middle East has positioned the company well for expansion. “The potential is relatively unlimited with the buying power and shopping radius,” added Murry.
One of the largest Middle Eastern markets, Dubai, is a retail and tourism hub in the region, attracting shoppers from throughout the Middle East, South Asia and Europe with its gargantuan malls. “The new malls in the region provide beautiful spaces for our product,” explained Murry. “And consumers in the Middle East spend a lot of time and money on the way they look.”
The brand’s top-tier Collection label sells well in the Middle East, an indicator of the spending power of local consumers. A Calvin Klein Collection store is due to open in the new Dubai Mall by the end of the year in partnership with retail group Belabi, which also operates the Collection store at the United Arab Emirates’ Wafi Mall.
Calvin Klein Underwear is expanding rapidly with 11 freestanding stores in the region, two of which opened this year. Calvin Klein watches, jewelry and fragrances are distributed through leading department stores in the Middle East including Debenhams, Duty Free, Harvey Nichols, Faces and Areej. And Calvin Klein beauty was launched in the Middle East in May.
Bin Hendi, a leader in luxury retailing in Dubai, owns and operates six ck Calvin Klein and Calvin Klein Jeans stores in the United Arab Emirates. The company is bullish on expansion and is continually scouting locations to open more stores in the region. “The retail market is not showing any signs of slowing down,” said Saeed Al Falasi, vice president of business development and operations for Bin Hendi.
Despite the more conservative nature of many cities in the Middle East, the product mix in the region is the same as that in other parts of the world. However, the company is careful about showcasing its products. “In terms of advertising, we are cautious. There are certainly images we don’t use in more conservative markets. We look to our local partners for guidance on that,” said Murry.
And while it has been growing rapidly, the company has not been immune to the political turmoil in the region. A Calvin Klein Jeans store, which opened in Beirut in 2006, recently closed because of the ongoing instability in that market. The company indicated the delicate political situation was hindering further retail development in Lebanon, though the brand is still distributed in various department stores in the country.