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Retail Mogul Gordon Segal of multinational shopping chain Crate and Barrel shares his insights ahead of Future Retail Conference in Dubai, 5 -7 November 2012.

October 14, 2012 3:49 by

While internet retailing in the Middle East is still in its early stages, Co-Founder of billion-plus dollar furnishing chain Crate and Barrel states that retailers have ‘’no choice but to be very good at e-commerce.’’

His comments offer a clear message to retailers weighing up the importance of having an online presence in a culture where shopping is an intrinsic social pastime. According to recent CBRE retail research; ‘’Shopping is still primarily viewed as a social activity, often tied to eating or other entertainment such as cinema going.’’

Yet while the potential of ‘click and buy’ convenience purchasing versus the physical store remains a point for debate in theMiddle East, Segal is begrudgingly resigned to the platform:

‘’In the US, retail traffic has slowed up. We (Crate and Barrel) spent our whole lives selling products out of beautiful stores, but now people go online to buy. It is very profitable. I don’t love it, but you can’t live without it’’

Segal’s recent comments come ahead of his appearance at Future Retail, an international retail event being hosted in Dubai between 5 and 7 November under the patronage of the Dubai Events & Promotions Establishment. The two-day conference and workshops will share progressive approaches to successful retail in changing and evolving markets.

The in-store experience has remained a core consideration for the Crate and Barrel empire for exactly half a century. In 1962 he and his wife Carole opened a single store inChicago’s old town and began selling goods out of packing crates and barrels. This move was one of ‘’extreme frugality’’ yet it created a rustic, atypical display that struck a chord with their customers. The unusual fixtures were behind the empire’s namesake and within six months Segal’s ‘‘counter-culture store’’ became popular with young consumers looking for affordable yet stylish house wares.

‘’The goal was not to build a big store. The goal was to have unique merchandise, beautiful stores and happy customers. Money was a secondary thing to us. The objective wasn’t to be the biggest, it was to be the best.’’

Almost 50 years later, foreseeing that beautiful stores alone would not satisfy evolving consumer consumption, Segal formed a partnership with FiftyOne Global Ecommerce in 2010 and subsequently extended their e-commerce presence and internal shipping capabilities to 91 markets. Today the $1.2 billion, multi-channel home furnishings retail chain employs more than 8,000 associates and runs a successful gift registry program and a thriving catalog and internet business.

Global trends reveal that 82% of major international retailers have an online product catalogue and 74% of consumers now shop online. And despite the more gradual move towards online purchasing regionally, some experts predict that a relatively large proportion of young, tech savvy and fashion conscious buyers will drive the success of online retail platforms in the Middle East – a trend that has been kick started with impressive growth in internet penetration in the region.

Questioned specifically on his motive to expand his brand to theMiddle East, Segal states;

“The Al Tayer Group had a lot to do with our entry intoDubai. They told us there were lots of people setting up home here. At that time, there were not many competitors.”

And the result?

“Our MOE store is doing really well. If it doesn’t sell in theMiddle East, we don’t force it down from the top”.

Speaking for the very first time in the city, Segal’s highly anticipated keynote interview will look at the challenges faced by retailers in today’s climate.

‘’I’ll reveal how our journey changed the way Americans view house wares and transformed the American retail environment for good.’’

Caption:  Gordon Segal, Co-Founder of Crate and Barrel comments on online and in-store purchasing habits following his expansion to the Middle East and ahead of his inaugural speaking appearance at Future Retail in Dubai this November.

Notes to Editors:

About Gordon Segal

Gordon Segal is Co-Founder, Retired Chairman and CEO of Crate and Barrel, the United States home furnishings giant. Mr. Segal led the company as Chief Executive Officer from 1962 to 2008. There are now 117 innovative Crate and Barrel, CB-2, andLandofNodstores in markets across theUS,CanadaandDubai.

About Future Retail
Future Retail is a brand new international event providing the latest technologies, models and strategies for increasing sales, driving profits and inspiring innovation across the retail globe. It will take place at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel,Dubai,United Arab Emirates between 5 and 7 November 2012. More information can be found at

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