x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Damas turns attention from Europe to UAE

The jewellery retailer has shifted its expansion plans this year closer to home in light of the global downturn.

Damas, the UAE jewellery retailer, has shifted resources for its expansion plans this year out of Europe to closer to home because of the global downturn, the company's deputy managing director, Tamjid Abdullah, said. Instead of adding outlets in France, Switzerland and the UK, Damas will open even more new stores to those originally planned in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Egypt, Libya and Sudan, Mr Abdullah said. "The expansion has been concentrated in countries where we think it is more feasible," he said. Gold and jewellery sales in the UAE have fallen this year, with April's sales down as much as 40 per cent in Dubai and 15 per cent in Abu Dhabi, according to retailers, who say the decline is due to the higher price of gold, fewer tourists, and local residents reducing discretionary spending. Mr Abdullah said sales at Damas, the largest jewellery retailer in the Middle East, were roughly 15 per cent lower in the first three months of this year compared with the same period in 2008. He said last year was exceptionally robust, however, with sales 37 per cent higher than in the first quarter of 2007. If 2009 was compared with 2007, sales were up by 18 per cent in the first quarter, Mr Abdullah said. He said he expected the third quarter of this year to be on a par with last year, and growth to return in the fourth quarter. "I don't personally see tough times, I see a small correction," he said. At the end of last year, Damas re-examined its expansion plans and postponed the opening of two new outlets in France, two or three in Switzerland and three in the UK. It will now open 23 new outlets in Saudi Arabia, eight in Qatar, seven or eight in Egypt, three in Libya and eight in Sudan, Mr Abdullah said. Damas also reviewed the performance of its existing 500 stores, he said. It identified two stores, one in Abu Dhabi and the other in Dubai, that had been incurring losses over the past three years. When sales did not improve despite new stock, the stores were closed last week and staff reassigned to other outlets.   aligaya@thenational.ae