Exclusive interview with Mr. Laurent Cathala - Tiffany & Co. VP Emerging Markets

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03-Jul-2011

What Tiffany & Co. promises to its clients in the Middle East?

Tiffany’s Dubai office will cater the whole region but not as a direct retailer. We opened a mini version of New York headquarter that would allow us firstly to be closer to the market and secondly have a full team of local professionals to further enhance the brand on daily basis.

We will have a more coherent approach on advertising the brand and have a very clear and developed approach on the way we are speaking about the brand. Basically all media PR is controlled from the headquarter that allowed us to be coherent with cities, countries and the whole region in terms of the message we want to pass to people. We want to explain what Tiffany is to the consumers. 174 years of history was never explained properly and I think now we have the opportunity to do it.

Now we are looking into developing our stores to implement best practices to give a perfect customer experience built on the respect of all those who walk into our stores. Our customers in this part of the world will be offered the same products at the same time they are launched globally.

 

What are the challenges that Tiffany confronts in the region?

The regional office will cover Middle East, East Europe, Africa and Asia. Each is a different market with unique specifications. Tiffany is available in some markets but not in others. But people are waiting for us and expecting us there.

 

The region is crowded with high-end jewellery brands and choices. How will Tiffany compete in such market?

Yes, everyone is in Dubai. You are referring to this market, but this is not the nature of all the other markets in terms of retail. The rest of the regional market is different. In some markets Tiffany is already there so we don’t have to impose ourselves. Tiffany is a brand of choice to the customer, trusted by the people; we stay true to our value when it comes to the design of our DNA. We have our iconic true love and respect when it comes to gifting; we have items starting from AED200 or AED300 to AED20 million and even more. So how much money you have in your pocket you are a Tiffany & Co. customer.

We are basically appealing for everybody and that’s one of the strong qualities of the brand. Regionally, jewellery is very common that people wear it all the time. But in less developed markets, things are different when it comes to international brands. It’s more complicated. We want to replicate the Dubai phenomenon across the border and provide the same feeling and quality of customer service in all Tiffany boutiques.

 

You mentioned earlier that the company will open more boutiques in the region; what is the GCC share?

Tiffany & Co. is not represented as it should be in all Middle East markets. So for us, we view the region as emerging market full with opportunities. The brand is loved and we know there are good investment opportunities.

In terms of expansion, we have 35 stores in 15 countries in the emerging markets. We are working with partners to strengthen the basis of cooperation, agree on the goals and the means which should be common for both of us.

 

Does your strategy include having brand ambassadors, participating or organising red-carpet events?

According to my knowledge there is no direction worldwide to have a brand ambassador. In 174 years, we never had one. The only face that presented Tiffany was actress Audrey Hepburn after she starred in the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s. We make spot partnerships to give the best of Tiffany, jewellery to celebrities on special occasions. Actually our best ambassador is our blue gift box with all the love and respect it represents.

 

Does Tiffany products offered in the region meet customers’ tastes?

The regions we will be handling from Dubai office are very diverse. We are lucky to have a lot of experts working with us. People in this region like to get a whole set of jewellery so we will be increasing the jewellery sets in our boutiques. We will be offering different ranges and prices from affordable to less affordable.

But when it comes to local designs Tiffany has its own DNA and is not going to change or compromise for any market. But we can do something similar to what we did to the Japanese market; create “must have products” more matching to the local taste.

 

What is Tiffany & Co. message on this very auspicious occasion?

We are coming here to give our customers the best in terms of service and products. Tiffany & Co. is an iconic brand and everyone can enter our stores and find what suits his or her taste and budget. Have the pleasure to own Tiffany’s blue box.

 

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