Launch event: A UK brand arrives

A press conference marking the launch of the UK-based department store Debenhams in Karachi’s harbour front saw Lord Green, Minister of State for Trade and Investment for the UK; Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, UK Cabinet Minister; The British Deputy High Commissioner and Director UK Trade and Investment Francis Campbell; Adnan Hamid, a GM for Debenhams in Pakistan; Yasir Paracha (MD) and Iqbal Paracha (Chairman) of Team A Ventures addressing the media and invitees recently.

The UK ministers focused on the promotion of Pakistan as a good place for British business to invest. A lot of good is bound to come out of this enterprise given the recession-like atmosphere prevailing in Pakistan.

According to a communication and the details given at the moot, the British retail company will be housed in a 27,000 sq foot store that is set to open in April and will be Pakistan’s first international department store to join other British brands in Pakistan such as Next, Mothercare, Accessorise and Monsoon which already have a presence here.

Earlier at the press conference, Lord Green reiterated the UK government’s commitment to build on the bilateral trade relationship between both the countries, encouraging more British companies to consider Pakistan as an investment destination. “This store (Debenhams) represents further progress towards our goal of increasing the UK Pounds 1.9bn worth of trade that already flows between our two countries every year,” he said.
“UK retail companies are up there with the best in the world, so I hope that many more will look to invest in and create jobs in Pakistan,” added the UK-born Baroness Sayeeda Warsi whose parents migrated there from Bewal, Gujar Khan.

The British Deputy High Commissioner and Director UK Trade and Investment Francis Campbell dubbed Pakistan as a relatively untapped market and said, “Pakistan has the potential to be the primary target for all British brands who want to benefit from it.” He added that it will join other British brands such as Next, Mothercare, Early Learning Centre, Accessorise and Monsoon who are already targeting the country’s emerging urban and middle classes.

Adnan Hamid said the retail store has a portfolio of internationally renowned fashion designers with 65 franchises around the world, and is here to change lifestyles.

Brand new Debenhams to open in April at Dolmen Mall

KARACHI: It will take another four months for UK department store Debenhams to open its doors for customers in Karachi but excitement has already surrounded the international retailer.

On Thursday, the United Kingdom’s Minister of State for Trade and Investment Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint and Cabinet Minister Baroness Sayeeda Warsi descended on the city for the store’s media launch.

They didn’t mind the makeshift arrangement made for the ceremony on the top floor of the Harbour Front building, which also houses a mall.

“This is going to be huge for our market,” said Yasin Paracha, the managing director of Team A Ventures, the company bringing the franchise to Pakistan. “It seems like an expensive store but we have done our homework and there is an appetite for brands.”

At present, it is hard to say what the store will look like. The space, spread over 27,000 square feet, is still under construction. But Debenhams will market at least eight of its in-house brands in Pakistan besides other known names.

The store was originally slated to be inaugurated in 2009 but it was delayed due to a lack of space, Paracha said.

The fact that other brands such as Next and Monsoon are doing well in the country suggests that Debenhams has a market, he said. “A lot of people also shop while they travel to other countries. That is the clientele we specifically want to attract.”

The store will open up some time in April. The price strategy for the market will not be different from what customers pay in the UK or any of its 65 franchises around the world.

Betty Jackson, John Rocha and Pineapple are some of the brands that people will find in Karachi. Paracha said more stores will be opened up in other cities.

Green said some of the largest British high-end brands were interested in doing business in the country. “We are working towards doubling the flow of trade between Pakistan and England.”