5 Minutes With… Ishwar Chugani, Exective Director, Giordano

Chugani set up the Middle East, India and Africa Giordano network



What will your company be focusing on this year?

At Giordano, our main focus has always been to offer the essentials and keep a low inventory.  Quality, relevant and essential apparel supported by exceptional customer service are the cornerstones on which Giordano has built and sustained its business. We aim to give our customers what they require in a friendly, comfortable environment. Our strategy is to grow a sustainable business and ensure profitability for all our stakeholders

Are you concerned that the current volatile global economic climate will affect your strategy?

There will always be a domino effect and it will be inevitable. However, as businesses, it is our mandate to make sure that the effect will be minimal.  We need to set in place measures that will cushion or stave off the adverse impact of such downturns. Tough times encourage a brand to go back to its roots and do what it does best. An economic slowdown highlights the tiny fractures of a business that went unnoticed during the good times. This has given the smart retailers a chance to learn from the legacy of the past to form the wisdom of the future.

What are the growth areas currently for your industry?

The growth is attributed to strong sales in the Saudi Arabian market; increased consumer confidence; growing demand for high-quality wardrobe essentials; and contributions from newly-opened stores.  We opened 12 new stores in the first six months of 2012 in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, India, Lebanon and Georgia. We continue to expect growth and strong retail returns from the Saudi Arabian market. Other areas showing potential are the African markets and CIS countries.

What new products will your company launch this year?

We are in the retail apparel business and have seasonal collections. For summer, we offer our linen collection, denims and T-shirt range, including the bestselling Lion Polos. We continue to innovate and bring in something new within our regular collections. Linen , polos and denims will be our staples as per the season, however within that there will always be something new that will attract the customers.

Will you be expanding into new territory?

Yes we are. We currently operate 226 stores in the region and on track to reach at least 250 stores by end-2015 in the GCC, Levant, Central Asia, South Asia and Africa.

What will be the biggest challenges for UAE businesses in your sector in 2012?

The UAE and the rest of the region is a very resilient and dynamic market. There are opportunities to expand but of course, this is done with diligence and we must be on top of our game. Operational costs would remain to be a factor to consider especially rents as well as the arrival of new competing brands. 

Challenge is like fuel to a fire. I think the greatest asset a business can have is the ability to observe and react.

By planning strategically and taking proactive steps to counter the effects of these challenges, we can ensure that we can remain profitable and grow at a sustained pace. At Giordano, we like to keep things simple. By being simple, you become nimble and this makes it easy to change your course of action when required. Our understanding of form and function is a great selling point and that became an obvious focus for us.  We were able to meet our customers’ demands.

Will you be hiring this year?


We have not stopped hiring and we will continue to do so as we open more store and grow the business.

What’s your leadership style?

Simplicity is a value that we stand for at Giordano. And this is reflected in many ways including leadership. There is always a direct line so communication is easy and fast, no layers, no protocols. We have an open communication style where all are allowed to voice their opinions and work independently.

At Giordano, we have a culture of empowering our people to take decisions and act as per the situation and a policy of promoting from within.  We believe it is very important that the person who already understands the brand, company culture and management style is given the opportunity to grow.

What makes the perfect employee?


A perfect Giordano employee is the one who imbibes our business culture –this is not a job, it is your personal business. When they act as an entrepreneur, they care more for the business and customers. Our customers do not buy from a company, they buy from a person they like, trust, who is knowledgeable and delivers what is promised.

Define success in five words…

QKISS – quality, knowledge, innovation, service and simplicity – these are the five values that made Giordano a success.

Three tips for becoming the boss…


Open the lines of communication; share your knowledge; support your employees to grow – when they grow, you do too.

When I’m not at work I like to…


I enjoy reading, spending time with my family and friends exploring culinary offers, travelling and playing darts. (I used to be the UAE Darts Champion back in the days.)