Furniture shops in Bahrain see demand drop
Manama, September 8, 2013
Two high-end furniture shops in Bahrain's busiest mall have closed and a third is due to shut this week, citing a lack of demand from customers, a report said.
Freedom Furniture and Marina Home have already vacated Bahrain City Centre, while La Maison Coloniale is due to pull down its shutters for the final time in a matter of days.
While the complex remains Bahrain's most popular destination for shoppers, too few of them are spending on luxury household items.
"This business is about seizing opportunity," said a spokesman for Jawad Business Group, which runs La Maison Coloniale.
"It is the nature of the business. Some shops will succeed while others will not. La Maison Coloniale's target clientele is between high-end to mid-range shoppers, which was just not producing enough sales. It was not cost-efficient to keep the store open."
He described Bahrain City Centre as "the most successful mall in the country", but added that high-end furniture was just not at the top of customers' shopping lists.
Meanwhile, a Marina Home representative explained the combination of high rents and low turnover meant it was no longer viable for it to occupy space in the mall.
"We are not shutting down the brand, only the store," they said.
"Profit margins are low and rent is high, so it is not cost-efficient to stay. As part of the nature of furniture shops we require large amounts of space, which drives up the rent.
"We were just not getting the sales numbers we needed to justify paying all that rent. Our lease was finishing and we chose not to continue there, but our Seef Mall branch will stay open."
Meanwhile, sources said Q Home was also considering its future at Bahrain City Centre.
"Q Home sells upscale home furniture, but footfall has dropped in the past year and sales are suffering," they said.
"People are more interested in the medium-priced furniture market these days and we are targeting higher-end clients. In mid-September a decision will be made on whether to shut down or change the whole product line to compete with the mid-range stores that are doing well."
Other sources were quick to point out that there had been no increase in rents at Bahrain City Centre.
"This is a consumer market and, to speak frankly in terms of quality and price, Home Centre has basically monopolised the mall furniture industry," they said.
"There has been no change or increase in rents as most of the shops are on lease contracts. Those who can compete will succeed."
Bahrain City Centre officials chose not to comment. – TradeArabia News Service
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