x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Money and me: getting ahead by selling a bed in Dubai

Salim Kermally, a luxury bed retailer, shares his philosophies on money.

Salim Kermally sleeps soundly at night. Jeff Topping for The National
Salim Kermally sleeps soundly at night. Jeff Topping for The National

Salim Kermally runs the Dubai franchise of the Swedish bed maker Hästens. The Briton, 32, who studied computer science at university, began his entrepreneurial ventures in London at 24. After moving to the UAE in 2011, he opened his luxury bed shop in Dubai’s Sunset Mall.

How would you describe your financial journey?

Each year since 2003 has been a learning curve and I’ve made some lucrative decisions along the way. However, the global recession in 2006 affected my property business and my personal property investments. So I had to venture out to look for other opportunities to help me ride out the storm. I went into the food and beverage industry, by investing with partners in a coffee shop in London. This was a great experience for me, and helped me to get my foot into the food and beverage, and retail industries, where I felt most at home. Then, my partner and I became the distributors of Hästens of Sweden here in Dubai. We have plans to grow the brand across the entire GCC.

Are you a spender or saver?

I like to think of myself as the right mix of both saver and spender. I enjoy spending what I can afford, but at the same time know that saving is of huge importance to my family’s future – and my own impending retirement.

Is money important to you?

It isn’t the most important thing. Of course, money is important to sustain your current lifestyle, supporting your family and saving for the future. But without health, well-being and family – money has little value.

Have you made financial mistakes along the way?

Like any budding entrepreneur, I have made the odd adverse financial decision but luckily nothing I couldn’t then turn around. In my six-year London property business, I made a couple of investments which did not quite pan out as they should have. But I believe that sometimes you need to make certain financial decisions, even if they go badly, to learn from and to make you a better decision-maker in the future. I have learnt plenty during this new venture in Dubai.

With any new business venture, you will make some mistakes when investing in the growth of that brand. But you’ll quickly learn cost-effectively how to promote and position your business.

What is your philosophy towards money?

Enjoy it when you have it, so long as you keep within what you can afford. And when you don’t have it, look back and be grateful that you at least had the opportunity to enjoy it, unlike so many unfortunate people in the world. Money shouldn’t dictate to you. You should always aspire to increase your wealth for the right reasons. If you intend to grow your business and wealth in an ethical and moral way, you cannot go wrong.

What has been your biggest financial lesson?

In 2011, we launched Hästens here in Dubai. You immediately assume that to create the huge impact of launching a renowned and reputable brand from Sweden, you must spend heavily on marketing, to achieve that “big bang” effect.

Financially, however, this can be a huge strain when you are operating with a restricted cash flow and are new to a region. I learnt that you can promote your business and the brand in a more cost effective way by organising a larger number of smaller activities – as opposed to a few big activities. These will be less of a burden to your balance sheet, and will probably get better results. The digital world is getting bigger and bigger, and hosts many great cost-effective platforms that allow you to reach your target audience. However, conventional advertising methods – like print advertising – are equally important.

What do you enjoy spending on?

My priority has always been my family. I enjoy being able to cater to their needs and wants as far as I can. It’s important to invest as best as you can in where you live. Your home is your sanctity, and you must be comfortable and happy there. I also have a small passion for cars, and always buy the best I can afford. They give me satisfaction. Sometimes they get over-budgeted for. Of course, like everyone, I enjoy spending money on things like good clothes, dining, and holidays.