Dubai's Pragma group plans to launch Cavalli brand hotel, 3 new clubs in UAE

Posted on 18th September 2014

Dubai's Pragma Group, which signed an exclusive licencing deal with Italian designer Roberto Cavalli in 2010, will soon unveil plans for its first Cavalli-branded hotel in Dubai, as well as three more clubs and 14 cafes, as it prepares funded by an initial public offering within the next three years.

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“As far as Cavalli is concerned it is one of the international brands we have been concentrating upon. As far as the cafes are concerned, we currently have cafes in the Middle East and we have plans for 14 more over the next couple of years. As far as the clubs are concerned…. we are announcing Moscow soon and Morocco and then Sao Paolo. These are the four cities we will focusing on for the clubbing,” Pragma Group chairman Joe Tabet told Arabian Business.

Last year, rumours circulated the company was planning to move into the hotel sector and Dubai was mooted as the first location for a Cavalli-branded hotel, adding to the likes of Armani, Versace and Gucci who have targeted the city’s rapidly expanding hospitality sector. Tabet confirmed these rumours are true and that an announcement is due very soon.

“We are working on this project with Cavalli and we are going to announce it very soon. I believe in the next couple of months we are going to be able to do a general more comprehensive announcement,” he claimed.

The other jewel in the Pragma clubbing crown is London night club brand Cirque du Soir, the circus-themed luxury outlet that caters to the alternative and outlandish. “We launched Shanghai last year and it did very well. Currently we are exploring other opportunities with that brand but there is no focus on developing on that brand, it is just on an opportunistic approach.”

One project which will not see the light of day is Pragma’s deal with Italian business personality Flavio Briatore to launch a US$150 million ‘Billionaire’s Square’ in Dubai, which was launched in 2010. The project was due to consist of a boutique hotel, as well as a Billionaire Bar and Grill, alongside other restaurants, bars and a fitness club, which would be the centrepiece of a $60 million refurbishment of the Palladium site near Dubai Media City.

Tabet conceded that a conflict of interest meant the partnership with the former Formula One team boss never materialised. “Basically this project created a conflict with our Cavalli offering because they are two fashion brands. So when we reached a decision on which brand to go with we went with Cavalli and decided in 2010 to recoup all our efforts and focus on Cavalli… I don’t know about the plans of Briatore, he is still a very good friend, but we do not have business together. I heard he is opening soon in Dubai but I don’t have the details.”

The Pragma Lifestyle division, which also includes brands such as Lina’s Café, Le Talleyrand, Health Care factory and Epicure Catering, has seen revenues grow from $21 million in 2009 to US$ 52 million in 2013 and is projected to grow to $193 million by 2016. Overall, Tabet predicts the Pragma Group as a whole will achieve revenues of over a billion dollars within two years.

As a result of the pace of growth, Tabet said they are positioning themselves to list part of the company, in order to accelerate and maintain growth levels going forward. “Currently we raise funds in the private market. Definitely the way we are structuring ourselves we are preparing for an IPO [initial public offering], not for the whole company but maybe some of the sectors that are eligible for an IPO. We are striking strategic alliances with those in the industry to take us there. It is a process that is going to take about two to three years.”

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