Azhar Sajan, director at Casa Milano, reveals how they are filling the gap in the market for the luxury sanitaryware

Tell us about Casa Milano?
We launched Casa Milano in October 2019 to fill in a gap in the market. We realised that there was a lack of quality fittings, sanitaryware and tiles, and that is when we thought of catering to this segment, keeping in mind the luxurious environment in UAE. I was still in university when the responsibility fell on my shoulders to build the brand. It was a great opportunity for me as my family is in the construction business, and this was an extended vertical. Casa Milano is a concept that caters to 360-degree luxury bathroom requirements. We offer sanitary ware, tiles, parquet flooring, and recently we’ve branched out into landscaping and swimming pool solutions. The showroom is 20,000sqft and showcases the latest in the industry. The past 18 months have been challenging for the team, the hurdles have helped us grow. Every day is a new learning curve. Until December 2020, I was juggling work and university. It has been good so far, can’t complain.

What differentiates Casa Milano from its competitors?
Price is always a factor regardless of the segment. Whether it be luxury or affordable, we all like to get our money’s worth. The first step was collaborating with international brands and making partnerships work, to understand them, see if they are in sync and whether they have a similar mind-set as ours. The same goes for our customers with whom we want to build a solid and long-standing relationship. What we are offering is value for money and that differentiate us from the competitors. Design is another aspect; we feature some of the most sought-after patterns and compositions. We showcase products from around the world, including the popular European materials. As personal choices differ, Casa Milano showcases a wide collection of luxury ware, from modern to vintage, luxurious to economic, and rich gold to subtle rose golds, among others. At the store, we aim to offer a ‘wow’ experience to anyone who walks in. I’ve received a lot of feedback from people who walk in that they love seeing the mock-ups, it’s something they have not seen before. Each touch point in the showroom has been designed to inspire with various display setups such as hotel rooms, kitchens, and bedrooms to showcase its offerings.

Where does most of your products come from?
We do have products from around the globe, however a lot is from Europe particularly, Germany, Paris, Italy, and Spain. We have tiles from India. Moreover, we have solid surfaces from DuPont US. We have a diverse mix of uniquely designed washbasins, showers, mixers, tiles, slabs and solid surfaces manufactured by over 40 of the world’s top brands including Tonino Lamborghini, Versace, Roberto Cavalli, Villeroy & Boch, Maison Valentina, Grespania, Corian, Quartz and Corà. We want to see the viability of selling local items in the future.

Has the pandemic affected the buying pattern?
It’s been pretty interesting actually, with people stuck at home and spending more time indoors, they’ve had time on their hands to give their homes an uplift. People needed an outlet, hence we also started offering landscaping and pool solutions. Many people looked at renovating their homes, creating studies in their villas as work-from-home is here to stay. People want to create beautiful home gardens, change their bathrooms, put in a new slab on the wall and so on. Being confined to the house brought out the creative side in many of us. Our footfall has steadily gone up, even with it being Ramadan, at 9am we get customers walking in until 1am in the night.

What are your most popular products?
In terms of demand, tiles and slabs are our most selling items. Slabs are trending these days. People are also loving the new faucet designs, massage bathtubs and vanities. The Salva bathtub is our fast-selling item in the bathtub range. What makes it so popular is its aesthetic design and price range. In the tile range, our Calacatta Gold range is a fast seller. It has a stunning aesthetic feel to it. It is a bit busy and not to sober, I personally love it.

With construction projects back on tracks. Is there interest from the B2B sector?
With us in our second year of business now we’ve been getting inquiries and have a dedicated outdoor sales team that looks into that side of the business. It’s picking up and it will take some time as we have to prove our worth to the market and people have to start believing in the brand, and in what we’re offering.

Tell us how hygiene takes precedence at Casa Milano?
Every 30-45 days we have a proper, top to down disinfection of all touch points because we have products that people want to touch and feel. We also have a disinfection and sanitising tunnel at the entrance so all people walking in get disinfected prior to touching our products. Most of our staff are vaccinated and get tested regularly to ensure we’re ticking all the boxes from our side.

What’s Casa Milano’s digital strategy?
While we are not offering e-commerce services yet, we are voraciously marketing our products online. We are working towards selling our products online and building our website to those specifications. I’ve realised over the months, during the lockdown, the importance to re-strategize and branch out into the e-commerce sector. We are currently increasing our social media presence – we’re very strong on Instagram. Every day we showcase our products and engage with our followers. We are also on Tiktok. I’m using the music trends to reach out to people featuring our different mock-ups. “People want to create beautiful home gardens, change their bathrooms, put in a new slab on the wall and so on. Being confined to the house brought out the creative side in many of us.