The luxury Swiss retail brand Bally expects growth in the Middle East to outpace China.
The retailer, which is renowned for its leather shoes and bags, has opened three stores in the UAE in the past year.
"I see the Middle East growing faster than China for us in terms of business in general, in terms of percentage of growth," said Mimmo Mariottini, the global sales director for Bally on a visit to the UAE last month.
Bally has operated in China for 30 years, he said, so the business was more consolidated.
The Swiss brand has about 70 outlets in China, including Hong Kong and Macau, compared with a much smaller number in the Middle East. Regionally, Bally has operations in Kuwait, one in Bahrain, one in Jordan and plans for additional boutiques in Qatar and Saudi Arabia. "We hope to grow in China as well. But I think in the Middle East, as a percentage, growth will be higher because this also is an area that is coming back," added Mr Mariottini.
In the past, Bally did not view the UAE as important, said Mr Mariottini. But it has since revised that view. "Looking at the future it is very important. We believe that it is a fast-growing market and most of the brands are coming here and interested in this part of the world and so we are," he said.
The brand opened its first store in the UAE in partnership with the Jashanmal Group in November last year in Mirdif City Centre.
And it has since opened two more boutiques with Jashanmal, one in Dubai Mall and the other in Abu Dhabi's new luxury mall, Avenue at Etihad Towers.
"The strongest demand is definitely Dubai Mall. But you also need the brand exposure and the brand image in other areas."