Fashion world ‘more conscious of value now’



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Published — Wednesday 6 February 2013

Last update 5 February 2013 11:39 pm

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Fashion, food and home always have a high demand and they are never going to get outdated, according to Raza Beig, CEO of Splash & ICONIC.
"In fact, in the last few years there is an oversupply. This will surely put pressure on weak businesses, and fashion especially is under pressure because of this oversupply. But I do believe we have a great future in Saudi Arabia and worldwide," Beig told Khalil Hanware of Arab News in an exclusive interview.
"Ladies fashion is most dynamic. It's always changing, and very promptly, while general trends are known. When any special trend emerges, we go after it and fly it down to ensure we have the latest. This could be fabric, color, trim or the latest style," he added. Yes, we have been very conscious of quality and follow the highest standards. Starting this year, we will be investing in an American Company, which will redefine quality and specks in Splash. This new parameter will be higher than the current standard, so the customers can surely expect more in the coming years.

The following are excerpts from the interview:

Founded in 1993 as a single brand store in Sharjah, Splash has grown to over 150 stores and 50 brand stores across 12 countries. Please tell us about this 20-year journey as a fashion retailer?
It's like a Bollywood story! A young man came to Dubai, to see what he could do in retail, and from a single store to now close to 200 stores is what it's all about. The journey in the last 20 years has been incredible, from a trader to a buyer and now a retailer, whose claim to fame is of creating the largest high street retail in the region.

Youths form a major chunk of the Gulf population. What specific fashion trends Splash has for the youth in the region?
Splash has always built collections for the young at heart and someone who does not wish to burn a hole in his wallet, after every purchase. We are all about the latest trends and we ensure what's happening on the high streets of London and Paris is happening in the GCC at the same time. We thrive on bringing some of the trends before other high street retailers. Our design department works really hard to make sure youth have the latest.

How does Splash cater women's fashion demands?
Ladies' fashion is most dynamic. It's always changing and very promptly while general trends are known. When any special trend emerges, we go after it and fly it down to ensure we have the latest. This could be fabric, color, trim or the latest style.

Showcasing popular collections for men, women and teens, Splash has revamped its existing product portfolio and introduced a unibrand concept across its stores. How does the Splash brand work?
We did a consumer survey in Saudi Arabia and customers said they come to Splash for its fashion, large variety of fashion and great prices. Therefore we discontinued our in house brands and are now selling all products with our own label, Splash.

Splash is known for adopting latest global trends in fashion. What is Splash's Fashion 365?
It's a tag line for people who don't know what Splash has to offer. Fashion 365 simply says, we are your fashion store and cater to your needs, 365 days of the year.

How does Splash keep an edge in its product portfolio?
Our design and buying teams travel all over the world for global trend spotting. Also thanks to the Internet, we can keep a watch on all the new and upcoming trends worldwide. Once it is tapped, our team works on a similar version and brings the product by air to ensure we are the first to launch the trend.

Splash also houses international brands under its portfolio like Lee Cooper, Bossini, ELLE and Being Human. What impact do these brands make on Splash's portfolio?
Lee Cooper, ELLE and Bossini are brands with a long history. Lee Cooper is a brand that has 100 years of history with brand values, and the product established adds value to our offerings. Being Human on the other hand is new. With a great cause while wearing fashion, the customer can be part of the charity foundation. Also, Bollywood actor Salman Khan has a huge fan following and he ensures that he endorses all his products personally, so how can one go wrong then. All the above brands are known for their fashion and value, which is what Splash is all about.

What challenges do you foresee in 2013 after being one of the largest fashion retailers in the region?
Challenges are part of every business. I really do not foresee any special challenges, but if we do have some I and my team are ready to take them head on.

How is the Saudi market for Splash? Are you planning to expand in Saudi Arabia in the near future?
In Saudi Arabia, we have our presence since almost 17 years ago. It's our best market and we are looking to expand. We have historically been associated in Centrepoint fashion offering, but we are now planning to open a few standalone stores. Simultaneously, we are also looking to open Being Human stores across the major cities in Saudi Arabia.

What is the product range of Splash?
We sell everything for men and women, across all ages and sizes. It's a fashion store for the young Arab family.
Is Splash monitoring quality of products as customers are very quality conscious?
Yes, we have been very conscious of quality and follow the highest standards. Starting this year, we will be investing in an American Company, which will redefine quality and specks in Splash. This new parameter will be higher than the current standard, so the customers can surely expect more in the coming years.

Being in the business for the last 20 years, what's your take on customer behavior?
The customer has had a journey from tailoring houses to prêt and designer stores/stories; this is the biggest change I have noticed. Also, customers are more conscious of value, unlike earlier when the perception was 'if it's expensive, it's better.' Today's customer understands quality, fashion, trend and value; it's a huge change from 20 years ago.

What's the Splash Islamic calendar?
Being in business for 20 years, we decided to create a calendar which customers can take back home. It's a piece of art, its calligraphic writing of the 12 names of 'Allah' out of the 99 names. The dates are in Hijri and Gregorian. Being a Muslim, I know what a calendar like this means in my house. So what better way to say thank you to our deserving customers.

What is the future of the clothing retail market? What is the size of the global clothing retailing market?
The customer has had a journey from tailoring houses to prêt and designer stores/stories; this is the biggest change I have noticed. Also, customers are more conscious of value, unlike earlier when the perception was 'if it's expensive, it's better.' Today's customer understands quality, fashion, trend and value; it's a huge change from 20 years ago.

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