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No risk business: Paris Gallery’s measured expansion moves

No risk business: Paris Gallery’s measured expansion moves

As Paris Gallery seeks new homes elsewhere outside the MENA region, has the company had a deeper change of heart then it lets on, asks Precious de Leon

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October 3, 2011 3:33 by



How many of us are currently doing two or three people’s jobs, post-2009? It’s become a almost become a norm now and it’s scary to think companies will expect one employee to juggle work that’s generally given to two or more people. After all, it’s almost too easy to blame redundancies, hiring freeze and waving salary increments on the downturn.

You may think this is almost like we’re saying some firms are using the debt crisis as an excuse to use and abuse employees—to cut operational costs and maximise profit. But ‘almost’ is the operational word here: Almost.

By the same token, it’s almost interesting to think about whether or not the Arab Spring is being used as an excuse to pull out of expansion commitments and franchise partnerships which, for some reason or another, is no longer of interest.

Take Paris Gallery, for example. The luxury retailer told The National it is halting expansion plans into Egypt, Lebanon and Syria.

So postponing plans in Syria is understandable given its current stormy political climate. But in Egypt and Lebanon, too?

AN UNDERLYING REASON

Lebanon, with all its history of conflict, hasn’t really featured strongly in the list of countries experiencing the Arab Spring. It wouldn’t be hard to imagine that when Paris Gallery decided to announced expansion plans there, its owners would have already been familiar with the ebbs and flows of political instability in the country and how life goes on and people not only survive but thrive in Lebanon.

And what about Egypt? As the article in The National suggested, there are a number of companies headed its way. It noted that Majid Al Futtaim is going ahead with plans to open a mall and hotels in Damascus and Bahrain. Meanwhile, Kipp also recently spoke to Virgin Megastore MENA President Nisreen Shocair, who said the company plans to increase its number of outlets in Cairo.

Paris Gallery says it is looking at Turkey, Iran, Azerbaijan, India and Iraq as more economically stable markets to consider.

You read that right: Iraq.

What exactly makes Iraq more stable than Egypt or even Lebanon? Maybe only Paris Gallery’s chief executive Mohammed Al Fahim knows.

But you have to admit, it’s interesting to think about what criteria pushed the company to finally consider staying out of Lebanon, Egypt and Syria, considering that it could take months or years to even open a store so it would have been unlikely that stores would be opening in the midst of heated political power shifts.

“We know the potential is there, what we don’t know is how long it takes to stabilise and to build those economies experiencing unrest,” Al Fahim was quoted saying.

Kipp is not alluding to anything else other than the question of whether the Arab Spring really IS the only reason that the company is ‘refocusing’. Or if there’s something else indicating the business has decided to go in a different direction to what it originally wanted.



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