Interview with Ishwar Chugani

Face2Face
Ishwar Chugani
Ishwar Chugani
ED and MD
Giordano International and Giordano Middle East respectively
Giordano International and Giordano Middle East respectively

While the US has just recovered from the greatest recession of 2008, the EU economy is still going through the crisis. Did it make any change in the supply pattern of clothing sector?

The recession definitely had an impact on the entire retail industry. However, it was a time for everyone in the apparel industry, both retailers and suppliers to go back to our roots and revisit their strengths that have served us well in the past. An economic downturn helps us see the tiny fractures of a business that might often go unnoticed during the good times. Apparel Brands have learned from their experience. They are more aware of what has to be done. They have diversified their sourcing options and are now opening up in many new emerging markets.

You began your career in 1979 when you set up Sindbad’s Wonderland, the Middle East first Indoor Family Entertainment Centre in Dubai. What made you shift from entertainment to fashion world?

Both businesses are all about Customer Service and Interaction with your customers. The Leisure industry was always changing and evolving especially with the growing internet use and access as well as other forms of entertainment. It gave me some insights on the importance of a Customer Centric approach to every decision we take and decision we make. Our initial plans to enter the fashion world was to create our own Children’s brand called Sindbad’s as an addition to our entertainment center business. However, after doing research, we found that it would be easier to take on an existing brand. I was familiar with Giordano during my regular visits to Hong Kong and Singapore. We approached Giordano 20 years ago and today we operate 260 stores across the region.

Since mid-2007, the advanced economies, including the US, Japan and Europe, together are contributing more to growth in the US$ 74 trillion global economy than the emerging nations, such as China, India and Brazil. Will it create new challenges for apparel companies with global operations?

When there are challenges there are also opportunities. Many more new markets are opening up. Central and Eastern Europe as well as Central Asia are now potential retail markets with many American and European brands entering the market. Global apparel companies have learned to adopt in the markets that they operate. In today’s world, where information can come from a click of the button, the playing field is now more transparent and the same information is available to all. This makes it easier for a global retail brand to enter new markets as consumer awareness would already be there.

Middle East markets have been very supportive for luxury brands? Do you think that there is any other region which is in very close competition to it in this field?

The GCC has seen healthy growth in the luxury retail segment particularly in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait driven by high disposable incomes, intra-gulf and international tourist arrivals and the success of certain mega-malls as social life destinations, with both retail and entertainment. Middle Eastern consumers are increasingly savvy, knowledgeable and well informed about global luxury retail trends
Published on: 05/12/2013

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.

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