Niklas Robinson, who has taken up the role of chief operating officer for the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region for Laboratoires Dom AVMM Suisse, is busy setting up the Dubai offices of the Swiss regenerative and cellular therapy products company.
Stem-cell extracts are the latest beauty products finding popularity. Lab Dom's local partner is Rashid Al Habtoor, the chief executive of Al Habtoor Trading Enterprises. The move into the Arabian Gulf region follows Lab Dom's efforts to register its regenerative and anti-ageing cellular products in the region.
Here, Mr Robinson talks about Lab Dom's plans.
Why the big push into the regional market?
Here we will introduce our weight loss and muscle enhancement products ... as well as anti-inflammatory and regenerative ones. These are manufactured in Melbourne, Australia. We see opportunities for growth here for anti-ageing products and Lebanon is another market for this.
We chose Dubai because of its geographic location and its access to Asia and Europe. Also, because of the opportunities we see for growth and medical tourism designs [of the Government].
From Dubai, we hope to enter Lebanon, Qatar and Jordan, as well as Kuwait, Morocco and Egypt. We have got a lot of interest and people have approached us at conferences and trade events here. In Dubai, five major distributors have approached us, although we will be only allocating one.
How much is Lab Dom investing in the Dubai operations?
The total global revenues of Lab Dom was US$80 million (Dh293.8m) last year and it plans to invest almost half that amount for the Mena region.
What are your expansion plans here?
We will bring doctors from Switzerland and Russia to train distributors for our products. We plan to have a network of clinics here, around six clinics in the next three years and one in Abu Dhabi by the end of this year. We will have a manufacturing plant within 18 months in Dubai or Abu Dhabi - the location is yet to be finalised, and eventually a research facility in the UAE.
There is no definite answer yet as to whether stem-cell therapy is an advance in the beauty industry or hype. How important is it for people to be informed before they buy such a product?
Whether it is for medical purposes or for more aesthetic requirements, it is always important that people are knowledegable on the products and the benefits.
Last year, Lab Dom reportedly removed from its board of consultants Raymond Lecraw, also known as Raymond LaCroix. He had forged his medical credentials and was convicted in a US court in 1992. Why did it take so long to remove him?
We acted immediately upon learning of [his] conviction at the time, which was unbeknownst to Lab Dom.
* Sananda Sahoo