De Riguer At Saks Fifth Avenue Bahrain
BY ANAAM IKRAM
Emerging from one of the most famous fashion capitals in the world, New York, Saks Fifth Avenue is by far one of the biggest fashion districts across the globe. Home to a multitude of luxurious fashion brands such as Fendi, Valentino, Burberry, BVLGARI, The Row, Tory Burch, among many others, Saks Fifth Avenue is every fashion lover’s go-to destination to pick up the latest trends and fashion items all under one roof.
With a total of 42 locations worldwide including Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, Kazakhstan, Mexico City and Puerto Rico, Saks Fifth Avenue is by far the most stupendous fashion hub. Heading the multi-story fashion establishment in Bahrain, Mark Asfahani, Division Manger spoke with Perle Magazine about how working within the fashion industry’s most prominent stores, was his dream come true.
Mark Asfahani moved to Bahrain in 2008 after travelling to the Kingdom from New York, where he was Director of Saks Fifth Avenue, to oversee the opening of the fashion store, located in Bahrain City Centre. Mark says working with Saks had always been a dream of his and though the company rejected him multiple times between 1993 and 2002, he did not lose hope. After working at various other organisations, he was called by Saks Fifth Avenue in 2006 to join as the Director of Sales. His attraction towards working in larger scale companies allowed Mark to devote himself to working diligently with companies such as Limited Brands: Victoria’s Secret Division, The Gap and Macy’s Department store as the Group Manager. His accomplishments at Macy’s drew the attention of higher management at Saks and the organisation decided to take him on board. “I will always remember how it felt walking into that building”, he says, referring to the iconic building on 5th Avenue 49th Street in Midtown Manhattan, New York City, “and use the associate elevators to get to the 9th floor and seeing the smiles in the associates’ faces greeting each other. They were genuinely happy people and that was probably why from the start, I wanted to join that company as it was a happy and respectful environment where your individuality and personal style is respected and encouraged.”
Though the move from New York to Bahrain might have been a big step, the self-proclaimed citizen of the world says that due to him being raised all over the world, he was introduced to various cultures from a very young age.
The diverse and accepting nature of Bahrain also helped him adjust easily to the Kingdom. Speaking of the fashion culture in Bahrain, Mark feels Bahrainis are trend setters and though that may seem like a big claim due to the size of the market, his daily interactions with Bahraini designers and business people have proven his belief. “The size of the market has limited the offering of luxury brands and that is what we are trying to do now,” he says, “we introduced hundreds of brands and that has really evolved our Brand Matrix to meet the demands of our clients and satisfy their taste”, he adds. Featuring local designers such as Noon by Noor, Kubra Al Qaseer, Annada, La Morena, and among others, Saks Fifth Avenue’s eclectic range of designers from all over the world brings together all the global trends under one roof.
Featuring an array of designer brands, Saks Fifth Avenue recently added a Chloé dislpay at the shopping destination.
Marks explains due to the constant change in fashion trends and to ensure their customers are able to experience these latest trends, their buyers spend around 6-8 months yearly in Europe and America to select and source new brands for the store. Of their current best selling brands, Mark states it varies by category wherein the children’s section brands such as Ralph Lauren and Dolce & Gabbana have a strong following; Saint Laurent Paris and Cholé are favourites amongst those who know the value of having a statement bag; and they have an offering of over 45 brands for the shoe-lovers.
Mark says he welcomes challenges as they provide a break in the daily routine and serve as a learning curve. “I have learnt over the years nothing is personal in business. Your main goal as a business leader is to satisfy most, if not all, of your stakeholders and always look for win-win situations”, he says. Understanding it is not possible to please everyone, he says it is important to make sure the customers know that an organisation holds their best interest at heart, and ensuring the employees know their work is of value as well. Noting his own leadership style can be strict, Mark says it is for the sake of maintaining high standards and never settling. A firm believer in his colleagues, he strongly believes that the most valuable asset a company has is its employees, and adds there is nothing worse for him than to lose a valuable team member. For his team, Mark says he looks for people who are passionate, driven, are punctual and have great integrity.
One cannot assume what the future holds for the enormous fashion outlet, but Mark adds that the most important part of their job is to make sure the minute they walk into the store they give their best to ensure a successful and glowing image to the name of Saks Fifth Avenue.
For more information:
Bahrain City Centre, Seef District, Manama, Bahrain
(00973) 171 720 00
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