x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Dunhill plans first-class expansion

A luxury brand hopes it can command customers' attention in the UAE as high-end men's retailer Alfred Dunhill plans new ventures in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

Nader Elmir, Alfred Dunhill's general manager for Europe and the Middle East, left, and Jason Beckley, the marketing director at Dunhill. Amy Leang / The National
Nader Elmir, Alfred Dunhill's general manager for Europe and the Middle East, left, and Jason Beckley, the marketing director at Dunhill. Amy Leang / The National

The luxury men's retailer Alfred Dunhill plans to expand its presence in the UAE.

The company said it intended to open one or two stores in Abu Dhabi and launch a branded restaurant in Dubai.

The company, founded in London in 1893, is also rolling out a new global advertising campaign in the Middle East.

"We're looking at Abu Dhabi as part of the expansion," said Jason Beckley, the marketing director at Dunhill, which is owned by the Swiss luxury goods holding company Richemont.

Nader Elmir, Alfred Dunhill's general manager for Europe and the Middle East, said the Abu Dhabi plans would involve "one or two" stores.

"We are considering opportunities in Abu Dhabi and further opportunities in Dubai," he said.

Dunhill's revenues in Dubai, where it has two stores, had doubled in the past two years after the company split with its franchise partner Rivoli, Mr Beckley said.

"We incorporated our Dubai business back into our own two and a half years ago.

"And we've seen that business double in size over the last two years," he said.

The company was also in "quite advanced talks" with an unnamed Dubai mall operator about opening a branch of Dunhill's food and beverage outlet, Alfie's, in the next few months, he said.

Alfie's would adjoin one of Dunhill's retail spaces in Dubai, and would be the company's second such venture.

"It's only launched in Hong Kong, but probably the second one will be here," Mr Beckley said. "If we could do it by May, I'd be really happy. [Negotiations are] quite a long way down the road."

Globally, Dunhill has more than 1,200 staff and about 220 stores, including retail outlets in Cairo, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain.

On Monday, the company launched a global advertising campaign called "Voice", which features several accomplished British men.

The ads feature the artist and author Harland Miller, the violin virtuoso Charlie Siem, and - the best known of the three - the broadcaster and Al Jazeera presenter Sir David Frost.

The ads, shot in black and white, do not mention any particular product and are intended to highlight the "achievements" of the personalities featured.

Mr Beckley said the campaign would run in print, online and on billboards in the Middle East region. He said it could be "localised", featuring an Arab personality, next year. Advertising spending in the Middle East would be "significant", he said but declined to specify a figure.

He added that Dunhill devoted between 8 per cent and 12 per cent of its global revenue to media spending. John Brash, the founder and chief executive of Brash Brands in Dubai, said he applauded Dunhill's latest campaign.

"What I like about Voice is its choice of people; strong, creative individuals that are British to the core … this cleverly links back to the heritage of the brand - all the way back to the roots of Alfred Dunhill."

bflanagan@thenational.ae