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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 12 December 2018

France's Armonia and Kanoo partner to service mega events in UAE, wider region

Company that services Roland Garros wants to boost its international revenue

“In any business you need exciting and you always need boring,” says chairman Mishal Kanoo, a fourth generation member of the family. Reem Mohammed/ The National
“In any business you need exciting and you always need boring,” says chairman Mishal Kanoo, a fourth generation member of the family. Reem Mohammed/ The National

The Armonia Group, the French company that services events including tennis tournament Roland Garros, is partnering with UAE businessman Mishal Kanoo to tap the events markets in the UAE and wider region, executives said on Monday.

“Dubai is an open gate to Asia and this is something we would like to discover,” said Patrick Thelot, founder of Armonia Group.

Mr Kanoo, who is chairman of diversified family conglomerate the Kanoo Group, and Armonia have launched a joint venture, Armonia Middle East, to take part in the region's events, hospitality services and luxury industry, including sports, corporate and mega events such as the Expo 2020.

Armonia, which also works with museums such as Chateau de Versailles and companies including Total, is expanding outside France to boost international revenue, which currently stands at 35 per cent of total turnover. The company had a turnover of €850 million last year and expects over €1 billion this year.

“We are still too focused on the French market. A group that does not grow internationally will disappear one way or another,” said Mr Thelot.

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Family offices in the UAE are expanding their range of products and services. Many have or are in the process of partnering with international companies to diversify their revenue and increase their competitiveness.

Earlier this month, Chalhoub Group, one of the Arab World’s biggest franchise operators of luxury brands, partnered with UK-based Farfetch online retailer to tap shifting trends in consumer spending and capture a slice of online luxury sales.

For Mr Kanoo, partnering with Armonia is a way to venture into a new business that has great potential with the upcoming events in the UAE and the wider region.

“We will be fast and furious,” said Mr Kanoo. “If you look in the region….there are literally three markets, the UAE Saudi Arabia and and if you are looking at consumer markets [there] is Egypt, everything else is small markets.”

Both executives declined to put a value to the partnership and maintained that the events business is low in capital expenditure.

“I know it will take time to acquire clients. It usually requires two to three years for a start-up to become profitable,” said Mr Thelot. “We will invest as much as we have to reach success.”