Virgin plots store launch blitz

British business tycoon Sir Richard Branson will make a short visit to Dubai in November to open Virgin’s latest Megastore.

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By  Tim Addington Published  October 30, 2005

British business tycoon Sir Richard Branson will make a short visit to Dubai in November to open Virgin’s latest Megastore. The flamboyant Virgin boss, famed for staging over-the-top PR stunts during launches of his various business enterprises, is expected to be in the UAE for a matter of hours to open the company’s largest Megastore in the Middle East at the Mall of the Emirates. The multi-billionaire has set aside just three hours for his visit to Dubai on 16 November. He will hold a press conference and book signings, before jetting to Bahrain for a meeting with the country’s rulers and then on to India. Jean Claude Torbey, regional director of Virgin Megastores, said it was unlikely that Branson would be putting on one of his legendary performances while in Dubai. “He has a very tight schedule,” he said. “He is coming for two or three hours, so I don’t think he will have time.” The Virgin boss was present at the opening of the company’s Deira City Centre outlet in Dubai in 2001 and also helped launch its Kuwait branch in 2002. The Virgin Megastore at the Mall of the Emirates is the company’s largest in the region, measuring 4000 square metres, and its opening comes just weeks after Virgin inaugurated its first store in Cairo. Torbey said the new Dubai branch, which brings the number of stores it has in the Middle East to seven, would be backed by a month-long outdoor and print campaign. Virgin’s advertising, marketing and public relations for the region is handled in-house by a team of 12, although the company has outsourced creative work to agencies, most recently Dubai-based Enjaz which produced work for the Megastore’s Cairo opening. Enjaz is also working on ideas for the Mall of the Emirates launch, which were due to be presented to the Virgin team late last week. Virgin plans to advertise in some 20 magazines, as well as using in-store media TV channel of 150 plasma screens and its Virgin Lifestyle magazine, which is given away free to 30,000 customers a month. “We do everything in house. It is more cost effective. We have a lot of things going on and we need a fast turnaround,” Torbey said. Branson is due back in Dubai in March for the launch of Virgin Atlantic’s new airline route.

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