A Name Apart

Dorgham Shaaban, Chairman and Founder, Brands General Trading
Dorgham Shaaban, Chairman and Founder, Brands General Trading

Fuelled by the ambition of its Chairman and Founder the company is committed to providing quality material all year-round, enabling customers to get higher discounts as they purchase more items

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Published: Thu 8 Dec 2022, 10:11 AM

For Dorgham Shaaban, Chairman and Founder of Brands General Trading, business management has always been in his blood. After graduation in 1981 with a degree in Civil Engineering from the UK, he took over his father’s livestock business and became one of the pioneers of the industry. “We were the core supplier of lamb meat, chicken, and fish to the UAE army. Under my management, the company’s influence in the market grew to affect the whole region in that industry. In 1992, our market share for Australian chilled lamb meat exceeded 60 per cent,” he said.

Despite meeting with obstacles and disappointments initially, Shaaban persisted in his efforts to start his own business. His commitment bore fruit in 1999 when he opened his first retail store in Twin Tower in Deira, Dubai. “With its success and unique concept, I was able to introduce another shop in the same tower in the following year,” he added.

Driven to fill the market gap, Shaaban opened Brands in Creek Tower, Deira, in 2004, offering the widest collection of suits, shirts, and ties in the region. “We aim to offer formal wear at wholesale prices for retail customers,” he said. The catchy slogan ‘Be smart, buy right’, captured the public imagination and the company was able to sell more than 40,000 pairs of suits, allowing Brands to gain a huge market share in the category. There was no looking back as Shaaban opened another branch in Mazaya Centre in 2004, followed by the company’s first store in Qatar in 2005.

“From then on, we expanded the business in different shopping malls and centres across the gulf region. We take pride in the continuous growth of the brand to 31 chains in the UAE, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia” said Shaaban.

Dealing with adversity

Over the years, as the competition grew stronger, Brands continued to outplay them by improving the quality, design, and structure of its collections. “Although the pandemic brought a drop in sales, it also opened an opportunity for us to explore other ranges such as casual wear, pajamas, and undergarments,” said Shaaban. As a result, the company proved its resilience, opening three additional stores, two in Sharjah and one in City Centre in Doha, Qatar.

Competitive edge

“The heart of the company’s strategy has been to have a portfolio of offerings that cater to the fashion requirement of people from all social classes,” said Shaaban. With an intimate understanding of customers’ needs and pain points, Brands redefines cost structures to offer more for less.

“Apart from the value-for-money strategy, employee welfare and workforce management tops the list of Brands’ business concerns,” he added. Brands’ commitment to its core values is what sets it apart. Now, even amidst the unprecedented times, the company is gearing up to open more stores, embracing complexity, uncertainty, interdependence, and a multi-time scale perspective. This faith in its abilities has been rewarded through multiple accolades won by Brands, including the Gold Award for ‘Best Retail Company in the Middle East and North Africa’, awarded by the International Council of Shopping Centres; ‘Rising Star 2016’, awarded by the Global Retail and Leisure International and the ‘RetailMe Icons’ award in 2021. The company was also included in the ‘RetailMe 100’, the most powerful leader in the MENA Region, highlighting leaders who prioritised people and purpose, those who innovated, collaborated and operated with agility to meet unprecedented challenges.

Looking to the future, Shaaban seems confident. “Our vision is to open 100 stores by 2025 and expand our reach to European countries. It is also part of our plan to introduce new concept stores for ladies, and add new business lines in the food and beverage industry,” he said.

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