BY ANAAM IKRAM
Opening up the first store in 1972 In Bab Al Bahrain, Latif Shoe has long been known as one of the most lucrative multi-brand gentleman’s store for high quality men’s shoes and leather goods. Establishing a solid foundation over 44 years of providing excellent quality products, Latif Shoe has played home to many multinational brands from Italy, France, the UK, and the USA. In addition to the flagship store in Manama, which has since then expanded, Latif Shoe has an impressively strong presence, with 10 stores in Bahrain and 2 in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, with further plans to expand in Saudi Arabia as well as neighbouring GCC countries. Continuing in the footsteps of his father the founder of Latif Shoe, Abdulaziz Alaujan is now heading the business as the Manager – VIP & Corporate, and has worked tirelessly to drive Latif Shoe to success year after year. Celebrating the one-year anniversary of their plush store in Moda Mall, Abdulaziz spoke to Perle Magazine about the journey that Latif Shoe has gone through over the years, and the story and legacy it has fostered for the generations to come.
What are some of the brands that are present at Latif Shoe?
We began the brand with numerous international brands including Rieker, Joseph Sable, Piccadilly, Latino, Sledgers from France, among others. There are also the Latif Shoe Select brands, which are the crème de la crème of shoe brands and include Barker, Crockett and Jones, Caretti, Edward Green and many more. Additionally, we are working with 4 out 7 brands of factories that produce handmade shoes in North Hampton, as it was once regarded as the capital of fine shoemaking. Only 7 brands remain and Latif Shoe Select is proud to house 4 out of those 7, hopefully the 5th brand is coming in late July/early August. We are thrilled to have these brands, especially in a small country like Bahrain.
What is the difference between Latif Shoe and Latif Shoe Select?
Latif Shoe Select is branded as a high-end boutique. We are very careful when we choose our brands, so that distinctive brands, styles, colours, materials, and textures complement each other and never compete. Customer satisfaction has always been our highest priority, so the increase in variety and options has worked to the customers’ interests. We are proud to have been serving our customers for the past 44 years, and hope to continue for another 44 years and more.
What are some of the most popular shoe brands that you house and what do you think makes them stand out from the rest?
Our success is driven by all our brands, but more so because of the brand itself – Latif Shoe. There is no competition between the brands. Each and every brand is used to strengthen the name of Latif Shoe Select. Our strength is in our name. Today we are serving the 4th generation of customers. And I truly believe that they are not here because they are loyal to a certain brand that we offer, they are here because they are loyal to Latif Shoe.
What leather goods can customers find at Latif Shoe stores?
We offer handbags, belts, walking canes, hats, cuff links, bow ties, socks, bracelets, and more. We are always experimenting with new products. Since Latif Shoe Select is a more of a boutique, we have to constantly bring something new to the table.
What were some of the challenges you faced when you took over the organisation?
The initial challenge was making an idea come to life. However, Latif Shoe Select was once a dream and today we are celebrating the one-year anniversary of the store.
What, according to you, are the essential qualities of a successful entrepreneur?
As an entrepreneur, you need to have a dream and a passion. But most of all, you need to have patience. There will be sleepless nights and worries. Eventually, your time investment will pay off, but you need to have patience in the process.
What is the most rewarding aspect of being an entrepreneur?
The most rewarding aspect is that you’re working for yourself and growing slowly and steadily. Believe me, it is not as glamorous as you would think. It is not about the irregular hours or unlimited leave. Working for a family business is actually a job with a high amount of responsibility and risk. There is quite a bit of time investment as well as attention to detail. As such, you are essentially investing your family money, and so, you have to be wise in order to help the legacy go on. Since our grandparents worked for our benefit, it is now our job to work for our grandchildren.
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