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Villa Moda in talks with bankers for Kuwait float

Villa Moda, the luxury fashion retailer founded by self-styled ‘Sheikh of chic’ Majed Al-Sabah, is to eye a listing on the Dubai stock exchange following its initial public offering in Kuwait.

Villa Moda, the luxury fashion retailer founded by self-styled ‘Sheikh of chic’ Majed Al-Sabah, is to eye a listing on the Dubai stock exchange following its initial public offering in Kuwait.

“40% of the company is going to be listed on the Kuwait Stock Exchange. It will make us the first luxury retailer in the Middle East to go public. We might think of listing in Dubai in a year’s time," Al-Sabah told Arabian Business.

It is thought that Sheikh Majed, who is the nephew of the Emir of Kuwait, will retain his majority stake in the company following the IPO in Kuwait, which was approved by the technical committee of the exchange in a meeting held last month [October].

Villa Moda has a turnover of US$64m but is trying to raise capital to fund its ambitious expansion plans in the Middle East and beyond. It plans to open a 32,000 sq. ft. store in Bahrain next year and a unit at London’s iconic Battersea Power Station - currently being transformed into a major retail and residential development - in 2009.

Considered the Middle East’s most prominent home-grown luxury brand, Villa Moda was founded in Kuwait in 1992 and now stocks products by names such as Prada, Gucci and Dolce & Gabbana.
A lavish US$500,000 party attended by Stella McCartney and Carla Fendi marked the opening of Villa Moda’s second outlet in Kuwait. It also has outlets in Dubai, Qatar and Damascus. Al-Sabah is outspoken about the image of the Middle East’s fashion scene.

“Most of the people who work in the fashion industry have a lot of ignorance when it comes to the Middle East. They think everyone still lives in the desert and walks around in an abaya," he said.

“[But the fashion world] is changing - the Middle East and Russia are the most promising new markets. They are under the microscope of all the luxury brands."

Al-Sabah is working on the launch of a new Villa Moda fragrance, but denied that the company had plans for its own women’s fashion label, as had previously been mooted.

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