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“Starting any business in Qatar is a great opportunity”

Interview - April 25, 2016

Upper Reach talks to Ghazi Al Mannai, founder of Al Shoura Trading and Services Company and its flagship brand Cellini, about the opportunities for Qatar’s flourishing luxury sector


With the highest growth in the region, Qatar is reaching the highest point of its economy and developing rapidly. In your opinion, what is the recipe for success here in Qatar?
Ghazi Al Mannai, founder and CEO of Cellini Tailors :I believe Qatar is succeeding because of our exceptional leadership. The Emir’s vision is to develop a country like no other in the Gulf, a country where economic excellence stands alongside a strong cultural identity. Qatar is now a country where the right support and facilities are provided to those who wish to establish or develop their business and this will ensure we can achieve the aspirations of our National Vision 2030.

SMEs in the Middle East are expected to benefit the most from foreign direct investment flowing into the region. Where do you see room for growth in terms of increasing the sector’s potential?
Starting any business in Qatar is a great opportunity. Since starting my business I have seen the market change, I now get calls from all over the world everyday asking me to go into business with them or bring their products to Doha. I am in the fashion business and that is my passion, but I have been approached with opportunities in the steel industry or infrastructure projects. This is a new and growing market and therefore the possibilities are endless.

The retail sector, along with the health sector, is the fastest growing in the market. What and where are the opportunities for investors and developers in the retail market in Qatar?
You can look at the opportunity in two lights. The first is that the extensive development of malls and retail units currently underway poses enormous opportunity for those involved in design or architecture, and secondly many companies want to be part of this exciting development and trade products in Qatar. This expansion is creating a healthy sector because now that the nation has its quota of the big luxury brands it is time for the more niche products to hit the market. Our consumers certainly have an appetite for quality, the challenge will come if the quantity is in excess of the demand.

Market trends show that effective branding and communications strategy have an important effect on the success of traders. As you celebrate 15 years of success, how did you develop the brand Cellini and what is the philosophy behind it?
I love fashion, I love quality and I believe in service. Some people joke that I am half Italian and half Qatari because I am so familiar with Italian products and travel to Italy every month and have done for the last 30 years. It became apparent to me that the shops in Qatar lacked luxury service and so when I decided to open up my chain of outlets I wanted this to be the major consideration – the consumer experience. I wanted the customer to become as in touch with their final product as the tailor would be, I wanted them to have an haute couture experience, where they could be part of the journey of the fabric, buttons, and thread coming to life. Cellini was born out of a dream that Qatar would finally have access to the best quality products at the highest echelon of service. 20 years ago it was a challenge to explain our pricing, but once people had come and seen the shop and the fresh Italian concept we grew day by day. Reaching the top is one thing but maintaining ones position is entirely another. That is why we are continuously innovating, travelling to exhibitions and bringing new machines from England, Germany, or Italy – we only work with the best because we only produce the best.

You have created a truly unique business; you have carved out an idea that others have unsuccessfully tried to duplicate. What makes you so passionate about your business?
I love my business and I understand well that investing in my people, my outlets, and the materials that I use is essential. I use the finest Loro Piana fabrics; I use fabrics from Thomas Mason that you cannot find anywhere else in Qatar – fabric that is used to make Prince Charles’ shirts, and that prestige will pay dividends.