Dubai-based young entrepreneur Azhar Sajan on plans ahead for his company Casa Milano - Gulf Business
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Dubai-based young entrepreneur Azhar Sajan on plans ahead for his company Casa Milano

Dubai-based young entrepreneur Azhar Sajan on plans ahead for his company Casa Milano

Sajan, director of luxury interiors company Casa Milano, outlines his journey so far and where he hopes to reach

You launched your first showroom late last year. Tell us about your journey so far. Also, how has the response been? 

My father had the vision to open something luxurious during the summer of 2018; we discussed it at our dinner table, and that’s how the concept of Casa Milano came up. To me, it sounded very interesting and I was excited to take that vision forward, so, we talked more about the concept and how to execute it.

Initially, we started with understanding who is in the market, what is selling and what are people’s requirements. Once we had a better understanding of these elements, we travelled to Europe and researched more on sanitary ware and tiles. We looked at the best available products in the market and what gives them the luxury quotient as well as what attracts customers.

My responsibility in the UAE market is to provide unique products through Casa Milano, luxury wares that are, at least, not available anywhere else in the country and also provide good service. Even if we don’t sell anything, the customer should walk out of the showroom thinking that he was very well treated here and when the need arises again, he will come back. I have taken a lot of feedback from my sales team and have met a lot of walk-in customers, and the responses I have received about the products and showroom have been generally positive.

The last quarter of 2019 was quite good and for 2020, I have a target in my head. If I hit that target, I will know that this market is very much open to this type of luxury business. Since October 2019, we have received a decent amount of business, which we weren’t expecting.

However, we are extremely pleased that the market is responding very well to us; in fact, a lot of stores have opened up in our area due to the market improving. So, this is a positive sign and with Expo 2020 Dubai approaching as well, I’m looking forward to this year being good to us.

How are you coping with the current tough situation cause by Covid-19?

Given the current global situation, we are taking the necessary precautions including maintaining social distance and installing sanitizer stations across the showroom. But the main way for me to cope is to have a positive mindset about the current situation and have faith in the government.

As a young entrepreneur, what have been your biggest challenges?

The biggest challenge I have faced is time management, since I’m also still studying at university. I had to manage my studies while also preparing for the launch of this brand, which was tough. Even now, I have to schedule everything and maintain a balance. It does get hectic sometimes, but I feel this keeps me focused and driven.

What is your advice to other young entrepreneurs in the UAE?

My advice to young entrepreneurs would be to be patient as there might be days when you feel that all the work you have put in is pointless, but the hard work will pay off and you will get your due. The other thing I would say is to have passion for whatever you do in life – otherwise it will all be for nothing.

Looking ahead, what are your plans for Casa Milano? Are you eyeing expansion in the medium term?

Currently, I have only one store to work with, so I want to plant my feet here and see where this takes us. My strategy is to interact with a lot of interior designers and architects, as well as focus on the clientele – we focus on professionals who would like to build their houses from scratch and on new building projects. I do not intend on marketing this as a mass-product.

I’m looking forward to expanding the business to other GCC countries and even Europe in the future. This is a distributor store; we are responsible for the UAE market. Most of my brands are from Italy but we also carry products from other countries in Europe like Spain, Portugal and Turkey. With certain brands, we have the provision to provide customisation as well. For instance, we have a brand called Corian, which can be customised to create any product – table, sink or bathtub – it’s from the US and comes with a 10-year warranty. Additionally, all of our products are manufactured in their original countries and brought here.

Lastly, on a personal front, what is your vision for the brand? Where do you hope to take it?

Casa Milano’s priority is to understand its customer’s needs. We offer all our clients the opportunity to design their homes with us; we sit with our customers and understand what their needs are. Most of the time, they come with their designer/architect and have an idea of what they want. We then take them around the showroom and depending on the products we have, we help them create a design, and the kind of products that are required for that design, be it any space.

Once everything is finalised, we give them a delivery date. Since our clients are different, the way we work with them is also different. A villa-project’s time-table will be unlike a building project which has 30 floors.

Most of our suppliers also provide authenticity certificates with their products and most of our products have technologies incorporated in them to save water. While we don’t have any products specifically implemented with energy savings as yet, we are fully aware of the sustainability conversation and our next step will be to see how sustainability can be implemented better through our products.

We are still a start-up company; it has not even been six months since we inaugurated the showroom, so, we are still a baby, but since we have entered the market, we have made a little noise and our competitors have also taken notice. The challenge is to provide the best products at competitive prices, since in this type of market, customers are always looking for the latest design and unique products – so to speak. All the products that I have and the brands that I cater to are different, as well as my partners. So, there is a market for these products and the competition is also less and not as tough.

Overall, my vision is to place Casa Milano in each household that aspires to have luxury living.


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