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East or West: Is Dior the Best?

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French fashion is known to be 'chic' and stylish. French designer labels can be distinguished from the others in the same league by their sophistication, cut and smart accessories. Among the famous French designer houses, Christian Dior is a well-known name. The House of Dior, founded in 1946 by Christian Dior, sells its products in the US, Europe, Middle East and Asia. Of the 210 locations that Christian Dior runs worldwide, 45 locations are in Europe, one location in Africa at Casablanca and 8 in the Middle East.

Their array of products sold in EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa) include fashion goods and accessories, perfumes, apparel for men and women, cosmetics, skin care products, jewelry, watches, and wines and spirits. Dior set up its headquarters, the Parfums Christian Dior Orient, at Jebel Ali which serves as the headquarters for the Middle East, Africa and India.

Christian Dior has had good presence in Europe. Even after the economic recession, Dior stated that its sales in Europe had not gone down. The sales from Europe contributed to 22% of Dior's total in 2010, and remained steady throughout the year. Dior has also been trying to expand its presence in Africa slowly. Dior has not looked at Africa only in the commercial sense, but has also contributed towards its social causes generously. Dior, along with one of its models Charlize Theron, has contributed towards educating young people in Africa on HIV/AIDS.

Fashion industry in the Gulf countries has been flourishing in the last few years; Dior has outlets at the Dubai Mall and the Mall of the Emirates. Beirut has also made options to house Hermes, and Louis Vuitton along with Dior, as it wants to be the privileged destination for luxury in the Middle East.

Though countries in the Middle East and Africa are making way for Dior, the French designer house will have to fight for market share with other designer brands like Chanel, Versace, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Prada, Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, and designer houses from Britain, etc. Apart from this, Dior also has to compete with local designers and labels from South Africa. Counterfeit products impact sales of the designer labels in the Middle East and decrease the profit from that zone. Many shops sell counterfeit products that people are happy to buy, despite knowing that they are not originals.

Despite the threat of competition and counterfeit products, it is undeniable that Africa and UAE are emerging fashion markets. The potential of these markets makes these threats seem like a minnow in front of an elephant. These emerging markets are estimated to constitute about 80% of the fashion market by 2015. This, coupled with government support, favorable policies, awareness of international brands, and high demand for fashion apparel make these zones the most sought after regions to open Dior stores. The fact that local designers are not recognized as widely as the designer brands is the icing on the cake. Though the market potential in the UAE and Africa is good, the current turmoil that these regions are seeing cannot be undermined.

The situation in these regions is like an anthill turned upside down, which may not only impact the sales, but also cause damage to the Dior stores during the riots and protests.
- Can Dior look forward to sustaining in the European market in future, as it has done post the economic recession?
- Will Dior be able to tap into the growth potential that the UAE and Africa offer and lay a strong foundation for the future?

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