A/N – This week’s interviewee is someone I have personally known since my teenage years in Beirut, where we both attended the Manor House School. Read on to gain an insight into the role of someone always on the look out for the latest in luxury goods…
Tell us a little about your career and how you ended up where you are today.
In 1978 I started working in our family business, the Beidoun Trading Company, which was founded by my father in 1961. He was a visionary and pioneered beauty and fashion retail in Kuwait.
I worked my way up the ladder learning about the company as I went. The company has continued to expand and now includes some of the most renowned brands of skin care, make-up, fragrances, and luxury goods.
Today I am the CEO and we have 16 showrooms in Kuwait, so life is never dull.
What makes someone good in your chosen field?
A thorough knowledge of the luxury goods market is essential. We stock the finest global brands ranging from names like, Mount Blanc and Yves Saint Laurent to Guess.
Good customer relations are also vital to maintaining our position as a business of choice for our customers.
It’s also very important to have a good relationship with suppliers, including a secure commitment to each other.
What mediums/areas do you mostly operate in?
We operate primarily in retail and distribution.
What can be challenging about your profession?
My father started by acquiring the most prestigious fashion and cosmetic brands such as Lancôme and Jacques Fath, and it is my role to ensure the company he established in 1961 maintains market share in these competitive times.
What do you most like about your profession?
Customer relations and travelling to trade shows. I love customer relations because I see the reactions of customers to our products, and I love the trade shows because this is where I have an opportunity to discover new products as well as renew relationships with existing suppliers. Face to face contact is really important in business.
What has been your most embarrassing professional moment?
When a cheque bounced!
What has been your most nerve-wracking professional moment?
I have had many. But the one that outweighs them all was the occupation of Kuwait by Iraq in 1990 and the subsequent chaos and uncertainty that followed.
What one piece of advice would you give someone starting out their careers; especially in your field?
Find a start-up niche product and work your way up with the brand
Is there anything else you would like to share?
Yes, make sure you have a solid contract signed because many brands, once they become successful are easily taken over by larger conglomerates and you need to be protected.
Jamil Beidoun is CEO of Beidoun Traders