x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Landmark to roll-out of Shoexpress

The Landmark Group, based in Dubai, intends to expand its value shoe chain, Shoexpress, to 18 stores in the Gulf this year

The Landmark Group, based in Dubai, intends to expand its value shoe chain, Shoexpress, to 18 stores in the Gulf this year, its third brand roll-out this year at a time when other retailers are closing stores. Shoexpress plans to increase its network of stores from two - one each in Dubai and Bahrain - to 50 throughout the Middle East in the next three years, said Grant Parnell, the brand's general manager.

"There definitely was a gap in the market," he said. "There are very few shoe retailers that are doing a value business in a big way." Landmark Group, which owns more than 1,000 stores in 10 countries featuring brands such as Splash and Homecentre, has already launched two other retail concepts this year: Gourmet Station and Beautybay. It also has a fourth brand, a fashion line called Splash Iconic, being readied for a roll-out.

Vipen Sethi, Landmark's chief executive, said the new brands supplemented existing retail offerings and targeted budget-conscious customers. "These are businesses which will do well," Mr Sethi said. "It's recessionary times, but all the research and development has been done. We can't hold it back, we need to go ahead with it." Shoexpress's first store opened in March at Landmark's flagship mall, Oasis Centre in Dubai. The brand has just opened a second store, in Bahrain. By the end of this year, Shoexpress will have opened one outlet in each of Al Ain, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Ajman. An additional store in Bahrain, and stores in Oman and Kuwait are in the pipeline, as are eight stores in Saudi Arabia. Mr Parnell said Shoexpress had been under development since last year, and its timing with the financial downturn was coincidental. However, tough economic times were likely to give the brand an edge, he said.

"People are looking at trying to stretch their budgets, and people are going to look for better value purchases," he said. The highest priced women's shoe in Shoexpress's stores is Dh79 (US$21.50), while the highest priced men's shoe is Dh125. Children's shoes cost about Dh30 to Dh35. For companies such as Landmark, which has annual sales of about $2.5 billion, investing in a downturn is a wise move, said Laurent-Patrick Gally, a retail analyst with Shuaa Capital. "When things get better, you are already positioned for the upturn."