Index Living Mall Co, Thailand’s largest furniture chain, will use its first franchise store in Dubai as a springboard to establish itself globally as an international chain.
The US$5 million, 5,000-square-metre store was officially opened at Dubai Mall last week by franchisee Retail Is Detail.Retail Is Detail, a subsidiary of Singapore-based Gill Capital, was set up six months ago to manage Index’s expansion in Dubai and the Middle East. It operates eight retail, food and fashion brands in Dubai, said Sanveer Gill, director of operations and merchandising at the firm.
The company came across Index Living Mall by accident when Mr Gill’s parents stayed at Chiva-Som International Health Resort in Hua Hin last September, he said. His mother phoned him after visiting Index Living Mall’s Hua Hin branch. Mr Gill flew to Bangkok a week after that.
”I was very impressed for the overall look from the store design, product merchandising, customer service and product quality. I took only five minutes to decide on the Index franchise,” he said.
The Index Living Mall in Dubai offers a selection of uniquely-designed high-quality home accessories and furniture under a one-stop-shopping concept. The shop employs 41 people, 38 are Thais.
”I learn to create unique home furnishing designs with functional practicality and futuristic, urban designs to give our customers the highest satisfaction,” said Pisit Pattamasattayasonthi, president of Index Living Mall.
Managing director Kijja Pattamasattayasonthi said the response to Index’s first international branch was better than expected. About 85% of customers who visited the outlet made a purchase. Indian and Australian investors interested in opening Index franchises have contacted the firm.
Index Living Mall was also hired by the Dubai Mall’s owner to produce 1,000 chairs for its outdoor amphitheatre.
Mr Gill expects the franchise to break even within 12 months. The company plans to spend about US$40-50 million to open eight to 10 stores the next three to five years in the Middle East, including Abu Dhabi, Doha and Bahrain.
The parent firm Gill Capital plans to open an Index Living Mall in Singapore and Malaysia within the year.
Mr Kijja expects Index’s export sales to grow by 10% per year due to franchise expansion, compared to flat growth the past few years because of the exchange rate and increased Chinese competition.
It expects 7 billion baht in sales this year and plans to spend 1.2 billion to open two new outlets in Bangkok next year, bringing the local network to 19.