Four years ago, Dubai-based BinHendi Enterprises launched an ambitious luxury retail concept in Deira City Centre.
Featuring some of the most exclusive fashion, jewellery and accessories brands spread across 70,000 square foot, BinHendi Avenue, its backers said then, would give the city a brand new and unique destination.
Then, in June last year, the company announced it was vacating the premises, saying its target customers had begun to shop in other new and upmarket locations.
On Friday, another Dubai conglomerate, Landmark Group, will launch its brand new retail concept, Iconic, in that very space. Better known for its pocket-friendly brands such as Centrepoint, Babyshop, Shoe Mart and Splash, the group has said that Iconic will be a "completely novel and revolutionary retail concept that would add an extra edge to our retailing credentials".
Raza Beig, Chief Executive Officer of Splash, who is spearheading the launch, insists BinHendi Avenue's departure and Iconic's launch are not indicative of the retail environment in the country.
"We are taking up that space because it goes perfectly with what we want to achieve with the new brand," Beig said. "Of course, as new neighbourhoods and newer, flashier malls open, there is a tendency among consumers to migrate from one area to another. But this does not mean consumers are trading up or down. It's just a natural progression."
Iconic, which will also open its doors to the public on Friday, will fill a gap in the UAE's retail sector, said its General Manager Nisha Jagtiani. "There is no equivalent to this concept yet. I think we are going to introduce a whole different space… a one-stop solution," she said.
"Our vision is to be the ultimate multi-brand fashion destination. Iconic is theatre: the environment is highly creative, with larger-than-life visual elements and exaggerated store interiors. It is about attitude, not age. Everything from packaging and layout to our advertising will reflect that.
"While key departments will include fashion accessories, fashion apparel and footwear, the store will focus on providing lifestyle solutions that will include salons, restaurants and electronics."
From high-street to "bridge" brands, a number of new cult brands will debut in the region at the store, added Jagtiani. "We have sourced brands from all over the world to introduce different signatures in the store. Each section has been formulated to achieve balance. From brands such as Diesel, Reiss and Kurt Geiger, we will be introducing labels such as Paul's Boutique, Vanina, Poupee Couture and Tiramisu to the region."
Beig, who has been tasked with supervising the launch, said the idea was to have a youthful approach.
"With our other brands such as Centrepoint, we have captured the family consumer perfectly and we wanted to go a step forward," he said, adding that the ultimate target would still be the "value-conscious customer". Splash, fronted by Beig, retails a number of affordable fashion and accessories brands.
"Value is still important to Iconic," he added. "But we also want to cater to customers looking to trade up. Introducing brands such as Diesel will take it a notch above from where we are."
A host of locally based designers will also create special collections for the brand, said Beig.
"Designers such as Ayesha Depala and Essa will be introducing ready-to-wear lines for us. We're also looking at long-term collaborations with a number of local designers who will create exclusive collections for us."
A few labels will also come from the in-house designers of Splash. Parent company Landmark Group has invested between $18 million (Dh66.11m) and $20m in Iconic, and is determined to make a success out of it, adds Beig.
"We are also looking at seven to eight stores in the first two to three years of trading," he said.
Jagtiani said the concept of a multi-brand store is much more interesting than operating a single brand.
"It is a place where it is always changing, it is forever new and something is always happening," she said.
The 26-year-old daughter of Landmark Group Chairman Micky Jagtiani said she also wanted to bring value back in multi-brand stores.
She said: "Here, most of them tend to be luxury. "We're looking at about 10 Iconics in the next three years. But first let's see how it goes this weekend."
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