It will take another four months for UK department store Debenhams to open its doors for customers in Karachi but excitement has already surrounded the international retailer.
On Thursday, the United Kingdom’s Minister of State for Trade and Investment Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint and Cabinet Minister Baroness Sayeeda Warsi descended on the city for the store’s media launch.
They didn’t mind the makeshift arrangement made for the ceremony on the top floor of the Harbour Front building, which also houses a mall.
“This is going to be huge for our market,” said Yasin Paracha, the managing director of Team A Ventures, the company bringing the franchise to Pakistan. “It seems like an expensive store but we have done our homework and there is an appetite for brands.”
At present, it is hard to say what the store will look like. The space, spread over 27,000 square feet, is still under construction. But Debenhams will market at least eight of its in-house brands in Pakistan besides other known names.
The store was originally slated to be inaugurated in 2009 but it was delayed due to a lack of space, Paracha said.
The fact that other brands such as Next and Monsoon are doing well in the country suggests that Debenhams has a market, he said. “A lot of people also shop while they travel to other countries. That is the clientele we specifically want to attract.”
The store will open up some time in April. The price strategy for the market will not be different from what customers pay in the UK or any of its 65 franchises around the world.
Betty Jackson, John Rocha and Pineapple are some of the brands that people will find in Karachi. Paracha said more stores will be opened up in other cities.
Green said some of the largest British high-end brands were interested in doing business in the country. “We are working towards doubling the flow of trade between Pakistan and England.”
Warsi also spoke.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 13th, 2012.