Retail personality of the week: Hussein Adam Ali

Rupkatha Bhowmick

From a single store to more than 110 across GCC and Africa. From the UAE market to spreading wings across 80 countries through the export route, building over 1,000 points of sale. While consumption kept building up – the brand produces 35 million perfumes every year – trends have evolved. The Swiss Arabian Perfumes Group continues to create an inspiring yet relatable brand narrative.

Swiss Arabian, The Dubai Mall

Building a strong network

“Over the last four and a half decades, since 1974, we have seen gradual – but steady – growth and evolution,” stated chairman, Hussein Adam Ali. “Although, in my opinion, our growth was a little slow. It could have been much faster. It could have been bigger. I had big ideas, but these were, most often, ahead of time. These ideas needed forward-looking approaches and people of a certain calibre for implementation. We have invested heavily to bring on board talented and bright people, who are making a positive difference to our business.”

A forward-looking strategy for the Swiss Arabian Perfumes Group is international franchising in the US in the near term. Canada and the UK, according to Adam Ali, are also on the horizon. India and Pakistan will be looked at as well. Closer home, currently, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Oman are Swiss Arabian’s strongest markets in the region.

Evolving with time

Right from our early days in Murshid Bazaar, Swiss Arabian has paid close attention to creating a great store ambience. Recently, Swiss Arabian unveiled its high-end fragrance boutique in The Dubai Mall, sporting a completely new, enhanced, luxurious look and feel. Situated in a prominent location, the store boasts high visibility. “Indeed, our new store is a sharp deviation from the existing network,” agreed Adam Ali. “We have upgraded the furniture, lighting and the overall ambience. Over a period, all our stores will look like The Dubai Mall boutique.”

Swiss Arabian’s new store offers an omnichannel shopping experience. Customers can place an order online while seated in the lounge area of the boutique. The brand also has an active CRM programme to further build on its loyal audience.

“Use of technology in the store is aligned to customer service, making the transaction process smooth, fast and secure,” said Adam Ali. “At another level, technology is leveraged to know our customers better, using information based on their consumption and purchase patterns. We must ensure that our store staff build a great rapport with customers to be able to meet their needs, every time they shop with us. It requires investments in talent, training and technology.”

Creating a premium offer

Research is the critical starting point to stay relevant to the ‘new’ consumers, to curate the right offer. “For whom are we creating a product? Is it for men or women, and what age group? These are some critical questions that we have to address at the outset,” observed Adam Ali.

“Usually, most of our fragrances tend to be unisex, mainly aimed at the 30-40 age bracket,” he shared. “At the same time, we also have to bear in mind consumers belonging to the 50-60 age group. Besides, now there are the millennials. Since the use of perfume is quite entrenched in the Middle Eastern culture, to introduce the art of fragrance-making to kids, we have collaborated with edutainment concept KidZania.”

Adam Ali believes that in a highly competitive market, there is a clear need for constant innovation. “Specific to Swiss Arabian, our goal is to continue being the ‘pioneer’ in the fragrance industry,” he states.

Read the full article in the March edition of RetailME