x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

After making shoes for Beyonce and the Queen, Stuart Weitzman to open more UAE stores

Stuart Weitzman, a luxury shoe brand favoured by celebrities and royalty, aims to double its Middle East footprint.

Entertainer Beyonce performs on stage during The Mrs Carter Show World Tour in New York wearing Stuart Weitzman shoes. Kevin Mazur / WireImage for Parkwood Entertainment
Entertainer Beyonce performs on stage during The Mrs Carter Show World Tour in New York wearing Stuart Weitzman shoes. Kevin Mazur / WireImage for Parkwood Entertainment

Stuart Weitzman, a luxury shoe brand whose clients include Beyonce and Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, aims to double its Middle East footprint.

The brand operates nine stores in the region, including a stand-alone outlet in the Level Shoe District in Dubai Mall, and aims to add up to nine more over the next 36 months. About half the stores will be located in the Emirates.

The brand, which claims to be one of the top three biggest manufacturers of luxury footwear in the world, is witnessing growth of between 20 and 30 per cent annually in regions like the United States and Europe, where it is already entrenched.

But it is now planning to expand in the Middle East and Asia Pacific, where sales are soaring.

“We are seeing 60 per cent, 70 or 80 per cent year on year growth,” said Wayne Kulkin, the chief executive of Stuart Weitzman. Sales are up by as much as 90 per cent in Dubai.

“Knock on wood for this region it’s better than the rest of the world. I would say the rest of the world has a bit of a cold,” said Mr Kulkin.

“But here everything is pretty nice right now. The year over year increases that we’re having in our mono-brand store and our multi-brand business are quite high.”

The brand aims to open three outlets in Abu Dhabi, and is looking at the Marina Mall extension, Yas Mall, which is due to open next March, and The District on Saadiyat Island, a shopping centre due to open in 2017.

“If it’s the right opportunity, we feel we could have two or three freestanding stores in Dubai,” he said.

Stuart Weitzman shoes are regularly seen on celebrities, such as Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Aniston, and even royalty are fans of the brand. Kate Middleton has been pictured wearing Stuart Weitzman wedges on several occasions over the past couple of years, and the brand also makes shoes for the queen.

“Stuart [Weitzman] has been one of the few people who has gone into the palace and you’re not typically allowed to touch the royals but to custom make the shoe for her foot, because [the queen] has a little bit of a wider foot, he has to measure it,” said Mr Kulkin.

“He was educated on the behaviours of how to work with her and how to touch her foot.”

gduncan@thenational.ae