‘Oman a major market for Rasasi’s growth’
April 23, 2018 | 5:44 PM
by Vinod Kumar PK/[email protected]
Salim Kalsekar, MD, Rasasi Perfumes. - Supplied picture

Muscat: With a four-decade legacy of blending the finest scents that celebrate the rich tapestry of the Middle East and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the UAE-based perfume maker, Rasasi, reported a very successful year in 2017, celebrating eight per cent growth across the GCC.

This was driven by growth in all markets, with six per cent growth coming from Oman. Strong growth also came from the sales of incense, which increased 10 per cent year-on-year, said Salim Kalsekar, Managing Director of Rasasi, in an exclusive email interview with the Times of Oman.

Oman is one of the most important markets for Rasasi, which saw strong growth in the oil category, with sales up eight per cent year-on-year in the Sultanate.

“In fact, 2017 marked the 25th anniversary of Rasasi’s presence in the country and we are proud to have such a long and prosperous history in Oman, growing from a single outlet to now having 29 stores across the country,” said Kalsekar.

In addition to this, 2017 saw Rasasi expand retail footprint across the region, opening 10 new outlets and revamping a number of stores to provide a fresh, modern retail experience for customers, he added.

In the interview, Kalsekar outlined the future of the company, the trends in the industry and the challenges faced by local producers from foreign brands. Excerpts:

What are the company’s plans for expansion in Oman in the next three years?

Oman continues to be a core focus for Rasasi and we are committed to future investment to further develop the perfume retail industry and provide Omanis with the very best customer experience. We are keen to continue to expand our presence, aided by the business-friendly policies of the Omani government, which allow companies such as Rasasi to invest and participate in the development of the nation.

We have ambitious expansion plans to open 10-15 stores across the GCC by 2020, including at several new locations in Oman, with scope to explore further pipeline opportunities. We are also planning to invest in upgrading our existing stores in the Sultanate.

What challenges do you see in the coming years?

The increasing presence of global brands will have profound implications, as it means the regional industry has no choice but to change with the times. Increasingly, regional brands are investing in aligning products, systems and practices to global standards and this will have far-reaching ramifications across the supply chain, right from sourcing raw materials to devising marketing strategies.

Now that so many new malls have come up or are coming up in Oman, what are the company's plans?

We have ambitious expansion plans to open 15-20 stores across the GCC by 2020, with scope to explore further opportunities. We are always looking for exciting new locations and the recent mall openings in Oman provide a great opportunity for us to further increase our retail presence in the Sultanate.

What are your expansion plans in the UAE and the GCC?

We are looking forward to building on our growth from 2017 across the GCC as we prepare to open new outlets in targeted locations and introduce fresh, innovative products.

We are dedicated to creating fragrances that cater to the evolving, younger audience with modern packaging and fashionable notes, while remaining true to our heritage and tradition. We believe that our customers respond well to this marriage of the contemporary and traditional as a reflection of the modern Middle East. We also have several new exciting product launches in the pipeline and are confident that 2018 will prove to be another strong year for Rasasi.

What are the trends in the industry?

In recent years, we have seen a rising trend of mixing traditional and modern scents into a fragrance by both GCC-based fragrance companies, as well as global perfume houses, as traditional Middle Eastern fragrances such as oudh become increasingly popular around the globe.

At Rasasi, we are focused on developing new offerings across all perfume segments – sprays, oils, bukhoors and home fragrances. We work closely with some of the best international fragrance development houses in the industry to align our fragrances with the best international trends, while retaining our heritage and commitment to quality and authenticity.

Another significant trend that has formed the basis of our changing business focus is the increasing demand for premium perfumes. This doesn’t necessarily mean the price point, but rather the fact that consumers are constantly on the lookout for better quality products, and more importantly, a unique product experience.

Different fragrances are popular at different times of the year, too. For example, the use of oil-based perfumes increases during religious occasions such as Ramadan, Eid Al Fitr and Eid Al Adha. However, our best sellers throughout the year include a wide variety across different product categories including oriental and French sprays such as our recently launched unisex line, Sotoor, and the perennial favourite, Junoon. Our incense offerings have also become symbolic with the warm hospitality of the region.

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