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The SME Story: Zein Arbeed, founder of The Grooming Lab

The SME Story: Zein Arbeed, founder of The Grooming Lab

The Grooming Lab distributes four men’s brands covering categories of beard, shaving, hairstyling and skincare

Zein Arbeed The Grooming Lab

What prompted you to start The Grooming Lab?
The idea to set it up came from a personal experience. My husband was growing his beard back in 2017 and I did not come across too many grooming products that would support his new look, thereby identifying a gap that resulted in the birth of The Grooming Lab. Also, men were not exposed to many grooming brands. The barbershops and pharmacies had more mass-market grooming brands, hence the gap for niche exclusive brands was available and ours to fulfil. Four years down the road, we now distribute four men’s brands covering all aspects of men’s grooming, from beard and shaving to hairstyling, and now more importantly, brands dedicated to men’s skincare.

Which are some of the key brands/products you are bringing to the region?
We started with the distribution of Captain Fawcett in 2017 that focused on beard grooming and shaving and which is sold in over 50 countries worldwide. Then in 2018, we looked at another niche barbering award-winning hairstyling brand called Dapper Dan from the UK that gave men a chance to use products made with healthy ingredients. In 2020, we grew the portfolio to add Jaxon Lane – a Korean skincare brand dedicated to men, hugely popular with celebrities such as Nick Jonas among others. And finally, in 2021, we introduced The Groomed Co, one of Australia’s leading men’s skincare and grooming brands with a focus on botanicals and clean beauty for men.

What is the potential of the male grooming market in the region?
The global men’s grooming industry is expected to hit $78.6bn by 2023, whereas the global men’s skincare market is set to grow 24 per cent in the next five years to reach $5bn. When it comes to the MEA market, the men’s grooming market was worth $3.58bn in 2016 and is expected to touch $4.32bn by 2022. Research also suggests that the GCC men’s grooming market will dominate this growth and is expected to reach $3.27bn by 2022, accounting for more than 75 per cent of the wider region’s male grooming industry. This will be driven by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which hold a near 85 per cent market share between them.

What is your current scope of operations?
Over the past three years, the business has had a steady 15 per cent year-on-year growth from the time we started and with a slight increase in 2020, despite the pandemic. As of 2020, our current sales avenues encapsulate over 50 barbershops and men’s salons in the UAE, three luxury in-store retailers and three luxury online retailers. Our focus market has been the UAE, but we are looking at expansion within other GCC markets shortly.

Will The Grooming Lab evolve to include a standalone store too?
We haven’t ruled out the possibility of a standalone store. However, for now, the focus remains on the main business and growing our retail partnerships to both cover and break new ground.

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