The luxury jeweller Tiffany & Co opened its new office in Dubai yesterday to feed the growing appetite for high-end accessories in emerging markets.
Tiffany has long been a retail favourite for gold bracelets and premium diamond pendants among shoppers in developed countries. But plenty more of its trademark blue boxes are expected to pop up in shops within the region as its new operation at Emirates Towers promotes growth opportunities throughout the Middle East, the Mediterranean, Turkey, Africa, India and central and eastern Europe.
"One of the reasons why we opened this headquarter - it's not a regional office, it's a headquarter - is because emerging markets as a region is clearly at the centre of our strategy," said Laurent Cathala, the vice president of emerging markets for Tiffany.
"From here, we are going to look at a very, very vast region. If you put a map [of what] we are covering from here, it's 30 per cent of the world."
Mr Cathala said the company planned to double the size of its global network of shops, which currently includes 35 locations across 15 countries, although he declined to specify in what countries new stores would open.
The new office in Dubai now serves as Tiffany's fourth international headquarter, following other regional offices based in London, Tokyo and Hong Kong, plus its flagship shop on Fifth Avenue in New York City.
The Dubai office will also oversee the six stores currently located in the Emirates.
The company, which will celebrate its 175th year in business next year, selected Dubai for a number of reasons. "Dubai, for us, was a logical choice because it's a hub today," said Mr Cathala.
"Dubai is such a major capital in the world for business and fashion that it was logical for us to be based out here. Being an iconic brand, we wanted to be in an iconic city, in an iconic tower."
Sales at the company, based in the US, rose 20 per cent to US$761 million (Dh2.79 billion) during the first quarter, compared with the same period last year.
That growth was spurred in large part by its increasing presence internationally, although Mr Cathala would not disclose specific sales data for the UAE.
"We are enjoying double-digit growth here," he said.
While consumers in the US are still facing an uncertain economic environment, those in other regions have helped Tiffany post double-digit sales growth across all jewellery categories during the first quarter.
The company has also raised its full-year earnings outlook based on this growing demand.
But the retailer has been facing challenges when it comes to the price of its carefully polished wares. Earlier this year, it said it would continue to raise prices in certain categories of products, across different countries, due to rising costs for diamonds and precious metals such as gold.
What this means for Tiffany's financial results, and whether consumers in the Emirates will see the cost of the company's jewellery rise, remains to be seen.
"So far the decision is not taken on what, how much, when. It's still open," said Mr Cathala. "The only thing I can tell you is that, like for oil companies, raw materials have a big impact on our financial results.
"So, of course, when gold is rising above $1,500 an ounce it's not great news for us because it means our cost of material is increasing."