Tiffany & Co designed the jewellery worn by the stars in the new film version of The Great Gatsby. The collection is available in stores in the Middle East. Laurent Cathala, Tiffany's vice president of emerging markets, talks about why he expects the collection to do well in the Arab world, the company's Middle East strategy and why everyone loves breakfast at Tiffany's.
Tell us about the Great Gatsby collection.
We designed a special collection of 30 pieces for the film. Most of the collection is made with pearls. Pearls are coming back into fashion. They were never out of fashion but they have become trendy and young again: it's not mothers or grandmothers stuff. The young ladies want to be like Carey Mulligan [the actress who plays Daisy Buchanan]. It's cool.
Your flagship store in the Middle East is in The Dubai Mall. There are so many other high-end jewellers here. How does Tiffany differentiate itself?
I don't think it's us that really tries to differentiate ourselves - it's the others who try to differentiate themselves from us. We are 176 years old, not a newcomer who just came and opened a store. People know that Tiffany is a leading name in diamonds. They know we have beautiful timeless pieces and iconic designs.
What's your customer base?
In Dubai, over 50 per cent of business is tourism so it's difficult to do customer development [with them]. Sometimes they are just once in Dubai. The other part of the business - which is a great part - is growing quite fast and we are very pleased about it. These are the people living in Dubai - expats or Emiratis or people from the GCC. These people are repeat customers. We have more and more repetition. We are showcasing the brand now in a way that speaks to people. We are launching more iconic collections. We are not at all in Dubai specifically into the engagement-ring concept. When Arabs get married they buy a set of diamonds, they don't buy [just] a ring. They buy a solitaire diamond ring or a yellow solitaire for their fifth or tenth anniversary. Because of this mix of tourists, residents and locals, there are huge areas of opportunities in business.
You have stores across the Middle East including five in the UAE. Are you planning additional expansion?
It depends how you view expansion. I mainly view expansion by the quality of the network. My objective is to have replicas of The Dubai Mall throughout the region. It's better to have fewer stores of high quality. I would prefer to have 10 or 15 amazing stores because [our jewels] are amazing, so beautiful, and they need a beautiful house to host them. All our beautiful clients want to feel comfortable and they want the best service and this you cannot do in a tiny box.
Tell me about your breakfasts at Tiffany's.
The concept is taken from the film. We have a gathering of press people or VIP clients or potential VIP clients - usually it's a group of 10 to 12 people. We give them the exclusive opportunity to have breakfast inside the Tiffany store and we present to them the collections to try, to touch, to wear. For me, it's not enough to see, you have to touch and wear. We also serve little cakes in Tiffany blue.