How have the last two years been for Casa Milano since its launch, especially given the changes in customer needs during the pandemic?
Casa Milano was launched in October 2019, so just as we were beginning to grasp the dynamics of the market, the COVID-19 pandemic struck the world in the month of March, and the resultant lockdowns and movement restrictions brought business activities globally to a standstill. To say the least, our sales took a hit. While the world was laying off its employees, we built our B2B team from scratch and established key relations with luxury developers across the country. Along with this we also reached out to retail customers who are our main target, as the lockdown had given them ample time to refurbish their homes which had now become their offices, classrooms etc. we distributed Hills, Dubai Hills, Meydan, Meadows to raise brand awareness. Some of our team’s first meetings with the clients happened on the Zoom platform during this period which helped us to understand the client’s needs. We also started providing complimentary design services to our customers which made them visualise their bathrooms in a different light. COVID-19 gave an opportunity to a lot of people to modify their house as they got enough time at home to think of revamping plans, which worked well in our favour.

What have you learned the most about business in the last two years, and what do you want to focus on now?
The last two years have been a roller coaster of a ride for all of us at Casa Milano. I very vividly remember my father’s words, “Son, you’ve completed the easy task of setting up the showroom and now comes the more challenging part of running it successfully.” I did not fully comprehend what he said at the time. As fate would have it, Covid struck, within 6 months of us opening the showroom. But we at Casa Milano took it up as a challenge given first of the many hurdles to be faced. What I have learnt from the past 2 years is that it is up to you how well you can turn adversities into opportunities. Now that we are 2 years old, I want to focus on expanding into other emirates starting with Abu Dhabi and to the Middle East, as well as partnering with the right brands.

You have great business acumen, where do you draw your inspiration from?
Well thank you, it’s very kind of you to say that. Coming from a business family, I have my uncle Rizwan Sajan, my father Anis Sajan as well as my elder brother Adel Sajan to look up to and I do draw some traits from all of them. However, it’s my father who is my biggest inspiration. He is very zealous about everything he does be it business or his passion for cricket. That has made him the man he is today. The core values of the family remain the same but it’s my father’s passion that I want to imbibe. My dad has also taught me that it’s really important to have a healthy relationship with all the stakeholders of my business.

Shams Bawany, Director Casa Milano ; Sahil Sajan , Marketing & Sales, Casa Milano; Rizwan Sajan, Founder and Chairman Danube Group, Abdul Hamid Ahmed; Adel Sajan, Managing Director, Danube Group

How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe I am a peoples’ person. In most companies, the business heads are respected out of fear, but I want my people to respect me for who I am.

What are the brand’s latest offerings?
We started as a luxury sanitaryware and tiles brand, but I am delighted to announce that we have now also ventured into designing & beautifying outdoor spaces with bespoke landscaping & pool services and Parquet by Corà for indoor spaces. Not only that, we are going to introduce a new department for kitchen in partnership with Arredo3, Italy’s 3rd largest kitchen brand.

E-commerce and a mobile app are major investments for the company. Do you think this is the way retail will go in the future?
Most certainly. Though it may take some time for people to get used to buying home solutions products online it’s not impossible. Especially after the pandemic, customers’ point of view has changed to a great extent as they were confined to their houses, which became their office, playground etc. People would definitely move towards e-commerce in the future. We too are working on our e-commerce website and mobile app for Casa Milano, which we shall launch soon.

Calcutta Gold and Sarah Noir from the Marble Experience collection by Italgraniti. Marble Experience is the collection wherein three essential principles meet selection of the finest marbles, technological innovation and exclusive materials, for the design of unique surfaces.

Could you tell us about the projects you’re working on right now in the region?
We are working with a mix of projects that includes residential, commercial and even some hotels. We have also supplied tiles to 2 pavilions at the Expo 2020. For residential projects, we supplied villas in Jumeirah, Emirates Hills, Dubai Hills, Meydan etc. We have even supplied to a couple of restaurants like CZN Burak.

Where do you see the future taking you, especially with regard to both general design and the direction of your company?
The design trends are ever-changing and we will definitely keep up with the trend in terms of our offerings. As for the company, as I mentioned before, we are working towards opening more showrooms and reaching out to more people and fulfilling their dreams of luxury.