Pakistan’s leading fashion brand GulAhmed has forayed into the international market by opening its first retail outlet in the UAE.
The more than 100 years old business group inaugurated its maiden fashion retail store — Ideas by GulAhmed — at City Centre Sharjah to introduce multiple brands such as GulAhmed, Kaaj ready-to-wear, Ideas Home, Ideas Fragrances, Ideas Pret, Ideas Man, Ideas Kids and more.
“Our fashion retail store brand, named Ideas by GulAhmed in City Centre Sharjah, is the group’s first official physical presence in any country outside Pakistan,” Mohomed Bashir, chairman, GulAhmed Group of Companies, told Khaleej Times in Dubai during an exclusive interview.
“On the consumer front, GulAhmed is our brand of unstitched fabric for ladies and gents — highly popular world-wide, which is supplied in different regions internationally through dealer network” he said.
The GulAhmed Group is a Karachi-based diversified business conglomerate that began trading in textiles in the early 1900s. Later, the group forayed into manufacturing and incorporated GulAhmed Textile Mills Limited as a private limited company in 1953 and then listed on the Pakistan Stock Exchange (Karachi Stock Exchange) in 1972.
The group also launched ventures in energy, chemical, retail and information technology.
Dubai a financial hub
Bashir, an industry veteran, said GulAhmed Group has selected the UAE to make forays into international market because of its strong economy, excellent infrastructure, and cosmopolitan culture.
The chairman termed Dubai as an international financial hub and said he will expand the GulAhmed brand across the UAE, GCC and the Middle East and North African markets by establishing its base in the emirate.
“We are planning to open two more outlets of Ideas by GulAhmed in Dubai to strengthen our brand presence in the UAE before going to explore Saudi Arabia and other markets in the region,” Bashir said.
In reply to a question, he paid rich tributes to the UAE visionary leadership and said consistent economic policies, ease of doing business and visa reforms are bound to attract foreign investment into the country.
“Ideas by GulAhmed just made a successful foray into the UAE market as the group faces no hassle in licensing, bank account opening and completing other documentation,” he said.
Bashir, a fellow member of Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), United Kingdom, was happy to see overwhelming response from the customers at the inauguration of first store in the UAE and said this is just a beginning of a new era for his century’s old textile brand.
“We feel thrilled and ambitious to serve customers and to expand in the entire UAE. With such an overwhelming response from expats of the sub-continent here in Sharjah, surely Dubai is going to be our next stop for having Ideas store there, which will continue to meet international standards of modern fashion retail,” the chairman said.
“This is just the beginning of our international chapter, we are ready to spread our wings further as we want to cater to all the Pakistanis as well as other sub-continent customers who share our ethnicity,” he said.
The GulAhmed Group chairman said the UAE is a very competitive market that offers plenty of opportunities to those brands who can offer quality products to the customers at competitive prices.
“Dubai is an exciting market, offering immense opportunities. We are elated and looking forward to delight people dwelling in such a strategic location of the world,” he said..
“Competition is always positive as it keeps us motivated to improve and continue to be the pioneer in the world of ethnic wear. Our belief is in continuous improvement, with positive intent to meet and exceed customers’ expectations. We hope that with our presence, the size of the market will grow,” he said.
In reply to a question, he said GulAhmed is known for its quality and the overwhelming response in Sharjah indicates that the brand is offering the best value for money to the customers.
“We always try to keep a close eye on market and monitor customers’ ever evolving demands to set strategic direction of our business. Which is why there is not one, but many reasons why people would prefer and choose Ideas by GulAhmed,” he said.
Bashir said GulAhmed Group is confident of the promising outlook with the foray in international market this year.
“Dynamics of the world have taken a new turn since Covid-19 and we are geared up to explore new opportunities in 2023,” he said.
“With the fast-changing trends and technology, shortening attention spans, evolving political and economic situations and unpredicted natural disasters, it is highly important for any business to be agile. The year 2023 will offer its own new challenges which would require timely actions and pre-emptive measures,” he added.
“Our aim has always been to build loyal customers and we just ensure we produce what our customers demand and the rest fits in place automatically,” he said.
In 2022, the brand introduced “Kaaj” which is a new women eastern apparel brand while “Salt” is a western wear for younger generation and fragrances is launched for the entire family.
“Subsequently, we also have month-on-month grown our branch network both in the urban and sub-urban cities of Pakistan to make our brand more accessible to the masses,” Bashir concluded.
What Ideas by GulAhmed offers
• Unstitched fabric for men and women
• Eastern and Western apparel for men, women and kids (boys and girls)
• Home textile (bed linen, bath linen and accessories)
• Fragrances for men, women and kids
• Footwear for men & women
* Within each category, a variety of fabrics, cuts, styles, variants and finishes are offered
GulAhmed Group’s contributions to Pak economy
• Exports of more than $300 million per annum
• Provides direct employment to more than 15,000 employees
• Sales and profits of the group generate direct and indirect tax revenue worth billions of Pakistani rupees for the government
• One of the largest composite textile mill in Pakistan
• Leading exporter of bed linen to Europe