When it comes to luxury goods, the GCC is one of the main drivers of global growth, with the region accounting for sales of $8bn in 2011, up 30% year-on-year, according to the “Retail International” report put out by Alpen Capital in December 2012. The outlook for the segment remains broadly positive as well, with a forecast compound annual growth rate of 8.2% until 2016, reaching a total of $11.8bn in sales.
While Oman’s luxury segment is certainly less developed than those in high-spending markets like Qatar and the UAE, and its retail offerings have been more limited to date, this is now beginning to change. According to global consulting firm AT Kearney’s 2013 “Global Retail Development Index”, the luxury retail segment in the sultanate is “picking up”. Recent additions to the luxury retail supply in Muscat include the Opera Galleria and Al Marsa Village Retail Centre.
The Opera Galleria, a new high-end retail outlet attached to the Royal Opera House, opened in early 2012. The complex sits on 6500 sq metres of gross leasable area (GLA) and contains over 50 shops, including luxury brands such as Patek Philippe, Mouawad Jewellery and Lalique.
Currently under development, the Al Marsa Village Retail Centre, is located in The Wave, Oman’s first major integrated tourism complex, and it includes 10,500 sq metres of GLA, anchored by a 1500-sq-metre Waitrose supermarket. The centre expects to house four specialty restaurants, 30 retail units, three coffee shops and 5000 sq metres of commercial space by the second quarter of 2014. Speaking about The Wave’s mixed-use, high-end offering, Pankaj Khimji, the partner-director of Khimji Ramdas, told OBG, “This is the future of retail in Oman and what the consumers want” (see interview).
In addition to a growing roster of foreign high-end brands, the sultanate is also home to Amouage, a niche international luxury fragrance house. As of 2012, Amouage was present in a total of 52 countries around the world, and the company intends to open stores in Singapore, Jakarta, Bangkok, Doha, Riyadh, Milan, Dubai and Abu Dhabi during the course of 2013.
In addition to its standalone stores, Amouage also sells its products through established luxury retailers such as Harrods in London and Bergdorf Goodman in New York City. To mark its 30th year of operations, the company opened a factory and visitor’s centre in Muscat in December 2012 that will allow visitors and shoppers to experience the entire process of perfume manufacturing, from the initial macerating of ingredients through the bottling of the final product.
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