Founded in Hong Kong in 1981, Giordano International continues to grow globally and today represents one of the world’s leading international retailers for men, women and children. In this interview, RLI speaks with Ishwar Chugani, CEO and Managing Director, Giordano Middle East and Member of the Management Committee of Giordano International to discuss a major milestone in the company’s history and what its growth plans are moving forward.
The pillars of success for Giordano are rooted on its quality, knowledge, innovation, service and simplicity. The company embodies the contemporary lifestyle choices with its simplicity in design and quality in substance.
They are completely committed to providing the exceptional service, excellent quality and great value to its customers. This has ensured that the brand is able to build a loyal customer base and has also helped to ensure continuous and consistent company growth year-on-year.
Since being founded 42 years ago, the company has grown from a single unit to today operating 2,000 stores across 35 countries in territories that include Africa, Asia, Australia, Central Asia and the Middle East.
“Over the past two years, we have successfully penetrated South Africa, Mauritius, Kenya, Ghana and Egypt and we are also in active negotiations with potential partners in Tunisia and Algeria,” explains Ishwar Chugani, CEO and Managing Director, Giordano Middle East and Member of the Management Committee of Giordano International.
“Our latest concept stores in the region have launched at the Dubai Hills Mall in Dubai and Jeddah Park Mall in Saudi Arabia. In the last six months we managed to open four additional stores in Ghana and are now focussing on our expansion in India through our license partners with a target of 50 shops and counters before the end of the year.”
The company is currently celebrating 30 years of operations in the Middle East after launching their first store in the BurJuman Centre on 18 March 1993. Since that launch Giordano has grown to 275 stores across the Middle East with more in the pipeline.
Speaking about this achievement and its future in the region, Chugani explains that the GCC region has all the ingredients to support the growing retail market and that the company is fortunate to be in a very resilient and dynamic market. He continues by saying that the GCC’s geographical location and especially the UAE as an international hub, will always be an asset and the continuous influx of regional and international tourism will keep feeding the growth.
One reason for the brand’s success with local consumers is its consistency and this is a quality that extends far beyond the clothes it sells. The consistent and sustainable growth of Giordano in the region is testament to the strength of its brand and their products.
“Looking back, I could not have predicted just how far we have come since our inception in 1993 – our team, the Giordano brand, the malls and continuous opportunities for expansion across the region. The entire region is buzzing,” highlights Chugani.
The focus of the celebrations to mark the 30th anniversary will be about the brand’s customers and its people – the backbone of its business and a series of events and activities will be planned for its loyal customers through the year.
“The rapid development of local infrastructure and the number of mega projects being rolled out are phenomenal. We will continue to take a cautiously optimistic approach, maintaining our expansion momentum while taking into consideration the challenges that lie ahead stemming from global geopolitical tensions and evolving labour requirements,” highlights Chugani.
Moving onto the topic of social media and the unique role it plays in the modern retail world, Ishwar talks to us about how the retail industry is full of brand names and to increase market share and be relevant on social platforms one needs to focus on customer engagement. Adept use of social media helps Giordano to strengthen its relationship with customers while at the same time build customer loyalty.
Sustainability is such a massive force in the industry today and Giordano is committed to creating a positive impact in the communities in which they conduct business. They aim to achieve this by, amongst others, supporting charitable organisations and causes; by ensuring that the workers producing their products are treated with fairness and respect and always conducting business by sustainable and environmentally friendly means.
Discussing the success of the brand over the years, Ishwar explains that simplicity and culture are at the very heart of these accomplishments.
“It is from simplicity that all our other values follow. By keeping it simple you can streamline your operations that allow speed to happen. The speed then allows you to create value because time is money and by keeping it simple consistently you can offer your customers the convenience of knowing where to go to get their basic apparel problem solved,” Chugani says.
“As for culture, the company’s culture is the ultimate competitive advantage. Competitors can steal your products or services or even key employees, however they can never take a great company culture. In my 45 years in retail, I have learned that the key to survival is not assets, not funds, not systems, not processes but people and their attitudes. To continuously exceed customer expectations, brands must ensure that customer interactions are rooted in empathy, engagement and emotional intelligence.”
Before we ran out of time with Ishwar we spoke about the future and the challenges in today’s retail landscape and he explained that the ever-changing market dynamics, customer buying patterns, customer loyalty, the rising costs of doing business and the emergence and growth of online shopping will all provide challenges in the coming years.
“The retailers that will survive and thrive are those that understand their customers – and know what services they will value in-store. While there is no magic formula that works for all retailers, these challenges will also throw out opportunities to the discerning retailer who is flexible and willing to adapt to changes.”