Ahmed Seddiqi and Sons


Ahmed Seddiqi and Sons
Europa Star WorldWatchWeb, 5 December 2007   
Keith W. Strandberg

Opened in the early 1950s, Ahmed Seddiqi and Sons started buying watches from watch distributors in other Persian Gulf countries, because Dubai wasn’t developed enough at that time to have its own direct distribution. Dubai was just a hub, really, with companies using its seaport to transmit goods.
Mohammed Abdulmagied Seddiqi, is the Chief Operations Officer of Ahmed Seddiqi and Sons, and he works closely with his father and his uncle. His grandfather, the founder, is recently retired. Dubai today is one of the fastest developing countries in the world and International Editor Keith W. Strandberg caught up with this family business to find out why it is growing so quickly.


Seddiqi


ES: How's business?
MAS: Our peak season is October to May. It is really only July and August that are slow. We’ve expanded a lot recently. The overheads are more, the responsibility is more, more showrooms, more stock, more employees. Business has been improving steadily. The President of Dubai has really been pushing the city and that helps us to have better business. The security is very good. It all helps, it’s like a full package and it helps business.
Ahmed Seddiqi and Sons has 34 showrooms in the U.A.E., ranging from multi brand stores to single brand boutiques. The Dubai Mall is an exciting project currently in the works, estimated to be the biggest mall in the world with 12 million square feet. By mid-2008, we expect to have several points of sale here.

ES: What is the secret of your success?
MAS: Trust. The trust we have had with our end consumers for the past 50 years. We have multi-generational customers shopping here. Loyalty and service is also very important. We are classic, yet still quite modern. The way we work with our customers, the relationship we have with them - we want to keep our customers loyal and treat them as friends, not just as customers. We want to build up the knowledge base here, so people learn about the watches and appreciate them.

ES: What do you do differently from other retailers?
MAS: We have our own after-sales service based in Dubai and our staff regularly travels to Switzerland to get their training. We always have staff on the move to get all the necessary training for the company.
We try to have the maximum number of models from the brands available all the time. Apart from great service, we try to have the full collection available, as Dubai is a very big tourist destination. We have our employees go to the fairs, so they know what is new and what is hot. If a customer comes in, we like to have the knowledge to deal with them. We want to give them the extra information and service they can’t get anywhere else. These are the small things that make a big difference to our customers.

ES: What is your relationship like with other retailers?
MAS: We have a very good relationship with everyone. There is competition, but my father and my uncle always had the concept of being like a big family and supporting everyone else. It’s all neutral, which is good.


Seddiqi


ES: What do you like about your job?
MAS: I love watches, first of all. It’s not because we’ve been in business for so long, I just love watches. I like to go to the showrooms in the evenings to stay in touch with the customers, to know what they like and what they don’t like, so I can order better. Sometimes, I just talk to my customers for hours about watches.

ES: What don't you like?
MAS: I really enjoy everything. I don’t like the fact that I can’t spend more time with my wife and sons. When my wife realizes I am busy, she comes to the showroom to see me.

ES: What is the biggest challenge facing your stores right now?
MAS: The biggest challenge is to follow up with the customers as the showrooms are expanding. We have customers spread out all over, and it’s hard to stay in touch with them personally. Now that we are opening more showrooms, we have to have dedicated staff and that means more training. I get along well with my staff. As long as there is no tension, they will listen and learn more.

ES: What is the biggest challenge facing the watch industry right now?
MAS: There are so many watch companies right now, the challenge, apart from being creative, is that you have to have a good history behind you. Companies such as Patek Philippe or Audemars Piguet don’t have any worries, but the new companies are trendier; they might hit the market for two to five years, then they are over. That’s a bit scary.
We are working with some new companies, but we already have so many brands. We have almost 50 in total, and it’s enough to handle all those brands.

ES: How do you market your stores?
MAS: We have our marketing department. We have corporate advertising in magazines and on billboards, as well as co-operative advertising with the brands. We don’t do any television advertising, we used to do it before but we don’t anymore. We concentrate on magazines, newspapers and billboards.

ES: What do your customers look for in a timepiece?
MAS: We have many different types of customers. Some are looking for a talking piece, which they can show off to their friends. Other customers want to buy a watch as an investment or pass it to the next generation. Some people go for the trends, because they saw someone with this watch on and they want it as well. Then, we also have some collectors who just like to have everything. It’s a nice mix.

ES: How important is security?
MAS: We had a big robbery last year, we were hit in two showrooms in the same day. The Dubai police were able to catch them in less than a week and we were able to get all the products back. We have improved security and increased it because of these incidents. The police have increased their security in the malls as well. We don’t have armed guards. Our store doors are open the whole time, from 10 to 10. It is important to have the door open all the time, people are used to this kind of system. They feel welcome.

ES: Are you optimistic about the future?
MAS: Yes, I am. Dubai is growing, the watch industry is growing, the models are getting better, a lot of people are appreciating watches more and more, compared to five or ten years ago. I think the future is looking very bright.

ES: What is your favourite watch?
MAS: I love the Patek Philippe Nautilus, but I still don’t have one because I have given priority to my customers. I don’t mind waiting, good things are worth waiting for.

Many thanks to Mohammed Abdulmagied Seddiqi for taking the time to speak with Europa Star.


Source: Europa Star October-November 2007 Magazine Issue

Ahmed Seddiqi and Sons
EUROPA STAR LAUNCHES TRAINING COURSE FOR RETAILERS



RETAILERS UNDER PRESSURE from watchmakers as never before
20 June 2014

Retail World - RETAILERS UNDER PRESSURE from watchmakers as never before

Tensions mount. No more free rides. Swatch Group is to invest massively in new company-owned stores. Watchmakers, particularly at the higher end of the market, are getting tougher with watch (...)
RETAILER PROFILE - Retailer LIMITED EDITIONS
24 February 2014

Retail World - RETAILER PROFILE - Retailer LIMITED EDITIONS

At the end of 2013, I went to a press conference at Geneva retailer Les Ambassadeurs where they announced the launch of their first collection of limited edition timepieces celebrating their 50th (...)
RETAILER PROFILE - DAKOTA WATCHES - Making a success in shopping malls
24 February 2014

Retail World - RETAILER PROFILE - DAKOTA WATCHES - Making a success in shopping malls

Dakota Watch Company started business in 1945, when Al Cooper leased counter space in department stores after World War II for servicing watches and other products. This morphed into a fix-it (...)
RETAILER PROFILE - ZAKAA BOUTIQUES are revolutionising retail in Nigeria
9 December 2013

Retail World - RETAILER PROFILE - ZAKAA BOUTIQUES are revolutionising retail in Nigeria

Aderemi Ajidahun, CEO of Hole19 Group and Zakaa retail stores, is determined to change the way Nigerians purchase fine watches. The culture before he opened up his high-end Zakaa boutiques was (...)
EKATERINA SOTNIKOVA - The collector who came FROM RUSSIA
7 September 2013

Retail World - EKATERINA SOTNIKOVA - The collector who came FROM RUSSIA

Ekaterina Sotnikova has opened a store in Paris that sells watches made by indepdendent watchmakers. Originality and prestige.
Brand Boutiques - PROS AND CONS: Westime
6 September 2013

Retail World - Brand Boutiques - PROS AND CONS: Westime

Major markets, like Los Angeles, are where the brands do a lot of business, so it is in their interest to build their presence in these important locations through standalone (...)
Brand Boutiques - PROS AND CONS: Ace Jewelers Group
4 September 2013

Retail World - Brand Boutiques - PROS AND CONS: Ace Jewelers Group

Manufacturers started taking over wholesalers and now they are taking over retail distribution. The obvious next step (which is actually happening as we speak) is setting up mono-brand (...)
Brand Boutiques - PROS AND CONS: Oster Jewelers
3 September 2013

Retail World - Brand Boutiques - PROS AND CONS: Oster Jewelers

More and more, I feel the brands are looking to dominate the retail market and go direct to the important collectors. It is an opportunity to hold a customer captive without any competition from (...)

Europa Star is the premier provider of international watch industry news and information. For 85 years, we have supplied watch retailers, watch distributors, watch designers, watch agents and watch manufacturers with news from the international watch industry. Our web and print publications are of interest to the specialized watch trade and the world’s most knowledgeable aficionados, watch collectors and consumers. Our magazines and websites are available in several different languages, making them accessible to all international markets and an essential tool for anyone working in the watch business and all those passionate about watches.

© 2014 Europa Star - All rights reserved.