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Villa Moda is primed to enter hospitality and property sector

Villa Moda, the Kuwaiti luxury fashion retailer, has plans to enter the hospitality and property sectors.

Villa Moda, the Kuwaiti luxury fashion retailer, has plans to enter the hospitality and property sectors following the company's announcement to partner with the UAE's DIFC Lifestyle Group. "We really wanted to expand the brand beyond fashion and retail, so we are now looking into developing hotels, spas and residential areas in the GCC area, as well as India," said Sheikh Majed Al Sabah, the founder of Villa Moda.

Abdulla bin Hamad bin Sugat, the chief executive of DIFC Lifestyle, said the company had acquired more that 70 per cent of Villa Moda. "Our role right now is to finance the new projects and extend the brand's presence in developing countries like Egypt, India and the North African region," he said. Both companies will work closely on diversifying the Villa Moda brand, with the aim of making it a global player in areas including art, hospitality, property development, well-being and food. Towards that end, Al Sabah Art and Design gallery will be opened in Dubai early next year.

DIFC Lifestyle Group announced last month that it had acquired a majority stake in Villa Moda. DIFC Lifestyle is the newly formed entity of DIFC Investments, the investment arm of the Dubai International Finance Centre, and offers an environment of high-end fashion, dining, modern art and culture. "We share the same vision with DIFC Lifestyle, which is to develop projects that are not traditional, because the GCC is already saturated with malls that follow the same concept," said Sheikh Majed.

Mr bin Sugat said Villa Moda, which is listed on the Kuwaiti Stock Exchange, was already a well known brand in the GCC. "We are looking at developing projects in the GCC and Villa Moda is already known in this region, so will save us marketing costs," he said. Sheikh Majed added that the global credit crunch was unlikely to affect luxury buyers, who remained financially stable even amid troubled times. "In our business we have been through the worst. Take the Iraq-Kuwait war, for example. We managed to survive that, so I think a global economic downturn will have little impact on our business."

To safeguard itself against potential problems, the store will offer a range of products and prices. "This strategy worked well during the war, and we want people to feel comfortable coming into the store knowing that there is something for them," said Sheikh Majed. Villa Moda's subsidiaries include Villa Moda International, Villa Moda General Trading and Contracting, Villa Moda Qatar, VM Emirates and Villa Moda Fashion Bahrain. The company also has jointly controlled entities and associates in Qatar, Bahrain and Singapore.

Further details of the company's plans for development and budgets allocated to those projects would be released by the end of the year, Mr bin Sugat said. abakr@thenational.ae

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