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“We Pay Attention To Our Portfolio”
From fixing damaged frames and making prototypes in small shapes 30 years ago to setting up his own manufacturing unit in Italy, Abdel Halim Yousef of Vision & Fashion Group has come a long way. Let’s delve deeper into his eventful journey…
VISION & FASHION GROUP is one of the leading eyewear distributors in the MENA region. From luxury to lifestyle, their portfolio is extensive and exhaustive. Of late, the brand has been steadily marching towards growth.
So, what is making them click? Is it their portfolio, their strategy or their legacy? We speak to Mr. Abdel Halim Yousef of VISION & FASHION GROUP to get these answers and some interesting insights. Mr. Halim currently heads VISION & FASHION GROUP as CEO.
VisionPlus(VP): Tell us something about your association with VISION & FASHION? How have you seen it evolve in the last five years?
Abdel Halim Yousef (AHY): Today, VISION & FASHION is one of the largest distributors of eyewear in the MENA region. Our USP lies in keeping all the products that the markets need when it comes to eyewear. Our portfolio is extensive and impressive across all categories.
We strive to offer our customers the best in terms of quality and after-sales service. Through our experience in the retail sector, we know the weak points of the other distributors and are therefore able to work towards avoiding them as well as serving our clients in the best possible way.
This experience has led us to achieve the success that we enjoy today. Our constant focus is to pay attention to our portfolio and match it to our customer expectations.
On one side, our brand portfolio includes luxury brands like BENTLEY, MONTEGRAPPA, etc. and on the other side, it also includes lifestyle brands like EXALT CYCLE and CAVALLO BIANCO as well as children's brands like CAVALLINO. Our range also includes ophthalmic lenses like ITAL - LENTI. Having said that, we are always working to keep everything the market needs for the retail department when it comes to eyewear.
VP: We hear, you have set up your own eyewear manufacturing unit in Italy? Tell us something about this new venture? How do you see it shaping up and impacting the Middle Eastern market and Egyptian market?
AHY: I have set up my own manufacturing unit in Italy since Italy is the best and the most important country to produce eyewear in the world. Ever since the eyewear market developed, brands are manufacturing and producing from Italy targeting all the world with their collections.
I think our setting up a manufacturing unit will improve the variety of our collections. It will help us to cater to the Middle East market with what they need in terms of sizes, materials and colours.
Additionally, all the biggest retail chains can create their own private label as per their vision and needs by easily communicating with our team in Italy.
During the last five years, we have developed ourselves from just being a distributor to becoming the owner of international brands like EXALT CYCLE and CAVALLO BIANCO. It would be fair to say that we are now working across multiple domains of the optical field.
In fact, now we have our distributors in many countries in addition to our retail optical chain presented at KSA, UAE and Egypt.
VP: What motivated you to get into eyewear manufacturing?
AHY: Well, it was my dream since childhood to see people wear eyewear that I have made. I started my journey in the optical field about 30 years ago. Back then, I remember how I used to fix the damaged frames and even make prototypes in small shapes.
The determination to get into manufacturing has only grown stronger and now the dream has come true with VISION & FASHION setting up its manufacturing unit in Italy.
VP: What are the expansion plans that you have in mind for your business?
AHY: Our plan is to be the largest retail optical chain in Egypt. We are very much on the road to achieving this goal as we expanded to 32 stores in all Egyptian cities, providing excellent service.
In fact, we have been selected to be the exclusive dealer for the most of the luxury brands like BENTLEY, MAYBACH, ZILLI, CHARRIOL, EXALT CYCLE, CAVALLO BIANCO as well as other luxury, fashion, lifestyle, sports brands to be launched in the Egyptian market.
Studying the culturally diverse markets of Egypt, we realised that it was necessary to launch a retail chain with a different business model to match the extensive history of the region. This led to EYE FASHION Company upgrading and providing the latest technology in the field of lenses.
It practically led to the Egyptian consumer being introduced to all luxury products. Gradually, we intend to cover all the cities and governorates of Egypt
VP: You have worked closely on the VP Awards. What is your take on the programme, its ability and any improvement that you would like to see in the
AHY: I’m very glad to have worked with VP Awards for the 6 years. I am witness to the evolution of the platform with each passing year. Organisations work hard towards highlighting their best models which in turn enriches the diversity of the brands participating in the programme. In future, I would love to see countries other than Egypt and the Emirates, given the growing popularity of the awards programme.
VP: In your opinion, what is the Middle East & Egypt customer looking for when he or she shops for eyewear?
AHY: Today, the world has become a small village, and with the spread of social media and the digital marketing, the customer has become familiar with the names of brands and models, that he or she wishes to see in stores. The modern customer insists on appropriate price and excellent service.
VP: What is your advice to the optician community / brand owners, when it comes to catering to the needs of the Middle Eastern and Egyptian markets?
AHY: I have my own slogan which says that good vision is not a luxury, it is a necessity. Given the importance of our profession, I would advise all my optician friends and brand owners to maintain good quality at an affordable price.
I would also urge everyone to spread knowledge and awareness about the danger of using fake products. I am also associated with the SALAMET OYONAK initiative in Egypt which is reaching out to a lot of people educating them about the dangers of using low-quality products.
We also provide an eye test service in association with the largest hospital in Egypt. We have also sponsored operations and post-op care for many patients. I think this kind of good work is social responsibility. Everyone must spare the time and effort to undertake such initiatives.