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Boutique 1

Two-store designer retailer Boutique 1 has joined the big guns at Dubai’s new open-air shopping centre

With the imminent arrival of department stores Harvey Nichols, Galeries Lafayette and Bloomingdale’s in Dubai, it might seem like a strange strategy for a small designer business to start expanding in the same city.

Undeterred, Boutique 1, the multi-brand designer store owned and run by husband and wife team Ziad Matta and Lena Jabbour, opened its second store in the city in the Dubai Marina last month. The marina is one of the few open-air shopping developments in Dubai.

The second shop is a lifestyle boutique featuring upmarket homeware, an art gallery and a soon-to-open spa and cafe alongside its vast collections of designer menswear and womenswear.

Womenswear brands stocked include Mulberry, Luella and Missoni, alongside denim from the likes of J Brand and Rock & Republic. Menswear brands include McQ, Y-3 and Stone Island.

The 30,000sq ft store was designed by Lebanese architect Omar Moujaes. The store is dominated by oversized panels of glass with a vast window facing onto the street. The interior, with its white-walled expanse, is fairly minimal, but is dressed up with designer tables, chairs and mirrors.

Matta says that complaints from customers about traffic getting to and from the original store in the Emirates Towers Boulevard led him to open a second store. “We wanted to be near the five-star beach resorts for the tourists and be closer to some of our clients. We are also looking for a third store in Dubai.”

Matta adds: “Shopping is important in Dubai. Some of our customers come in three or four times a week. The lifestyle concept gives them an added reason to visit us.”

The planned launch of international luxury department stores in Dubai presents challenges for Boutique 1 in terms of increased competition and brand distribution. But Boutique 1’s customer service will be difficult to emulate.

The retailer arranges home visits to more than half of the store’s top 10 customers because many of the families in Dubai are conservative and some women are unable to visit the shops more than once a month.

Boutique 1 also has loyal and “fashion competitive” customers who think nothing of buying up the whole stock of a particular item to ensure they have exclusivity.

Boutique 1 is part of the Sifico Group, which is owned by Matta’s family. Matta joined the business in 2000 and set up a fashion retail division called Sifico Fashion. Sifico Fashion operates franchise stores for Missoni, Elie Saab, Mulberry and Tabbah in Dubai. It opened six franchise stores in the Dubai mall last month.

As well as a third store for Boutique 1 in Dubai, Matta has plans for openings in Beirut and Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates.

30,000sq ft: Amount of retail space at Boutique 1’s new store

200+: Number of brands stocked in the store

2000: The year Boutique 1 opened its first store

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