To satisfy the global demand for luxury retail, fashion giant Saks Fifth Avenue has been licensing stores all over the world. And by August 2012 it’ll open a 91,000 square-foot unit in Almaty, Kazakhstan. You may begin making Borat jokes now.
Women’s Wear Daily reports that Saks, which also has licensed stores in Mexico City, Dubai and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, will anchor Almaty’s new Esentai Shopping Mall with a three-story store that will sell everything from high fashion threads to ritzy beauty products. And while the former Soviet bloc country might seem like the last place on earth that would have need of an ostentatious temple of conspicuous consumption, its growing upper class is developing a taste for the finer things in life.
The mall will also house luxury fashion and jewelry stores and is part of Esentai Park, a mixed-use project under development with luxury residential and commercial towers and a five-star hotel. [Saks CEO Stephen I. Sadove] said Almaty, with its rapidly expanding affluent population, will be “a great fit” for Saks.
But a great fit might not make the area an emerging market, which is why Saks hasn’t felt the need to open an company-owned stores abroad. The risk is greater than the reward, so the Viled Group (which operates the only stores in the area where you can buy Tiffany and Cartier) will be managing the new store.
Upscale retail stores like Macy’s and Neiman Marcus don’t have any international footholds, but Bloomingdale’s has a store in Dubai and Nordstrom is “exploring Canada.” To say the least (and we mean the very least), the Kazakhstan Saks should be pretty fun to watch.