Bloomingdale’s opens in Dubai

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New York’s famed Bloomingdale’s department store opened its doors in the Middle East’s biggest mall on Sunday in its first foray outside its home market.

The Macy’s Inc unit has teamed up with the United Arab Emirates‘ Al Tayer Group, which is investing 270 million dirhams ($73.5 million) in a venture first announced in September 2008.

“We are bringing the best of America to Dubai with Bloomingdale’s,” said Shireen el-Khatib, chief executive of Al Tayer Insignia, the group’s luxury retail division.

Macy’s announced in September 2008, it would open in Dubai, the Gulf region’s tourism and trade hub, just before global markets were sent tumbling by the collapse of Lehman Brothers.

“We have to create something that’s different,” Michael Gould, Bloomingdale’s chairman and chief executive, told Reuters at the inauguration of the three-story shop when asked how the brand would attract buyers in the downturn.

“I think this is a marathon, not a 100-meter (yard) dash … it’s a long process.”

Dubai has been hit hard by the end of a six-year economic boom fueled by a fast-paced real estate development.

Dubai Mall‘s opening coincided with a sharp drop in retail sales across the once-bustling emirate, as consumers tightened their belts.

Bloomingdale’s opening coincides with the Dubai Shopping Festival, an annual promotional campaign that draws regional shoppers.

Gould said Bloomingdale’s had a “wonderful” fourth quarter in the United States. “I think January is the strongest month we have had probably in a year and a half,” he said.

Al Tayer is a diversified group with interests in autos, contracting, distribution, publishing, retail and services. It operates in 12 countries across the Middle East and represents more than 600 brands including Ferrari, Ford, Land Rover, Harvey Nichols, Armani and Gucci.

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