Western companies finding markets for lingerie in Muslim countries
By Tousif Khan - Sun Dec 25, 10:34 am
Behind their more modest street clothes, many women in Arab countries apparently are wearing North American lingerie as western companies expand into these markets.
With slightly lower hems and largely altered advertisements, Canadian lingerie retailer La Vie en Rose has made a splash in Arab countries.
About 10 per cent of the Montreal-based company’s annual revenue comes from its stores in Arab countries, and the company plans to expand to meet growing demands there, said Luc Poirier, the CFO and vice-president of international business.
“It was a bit surprising to see the growth compared to the Canadian market,” Poirier said.
“Still, we feel that women, whether Muslim or whatever the religion, like to be fashionable. So if there’s a demand there, we thought we should try to serve it as well as we do here in Canada.”
The lingerie retailer has 55 stores across the United Arab Emirates, Algeria, Kuwait, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is the company’s biggest Middle East customer, with 29 stories in that country alone. The company plans to add another six stores there and two more in Kuwait.
The company started exploring these markets five years ago and found an appetite for its products. By 2013, it plans to have stores in Oman, Bahrain, Qatar and Tunisia.
Many of La Vie en Rose’s shops in the Muslim world see sales volumes double that of comparable stores in North America, Poirier said.
About 90 per cent of La Vie en Rose’s Canadian collection is well-accepted in these countries, Poirier said, although the women prefer longer gowns. The company also produces a special series for Ramadan.