The intense competition of a globalised marketplace has prompted major product, service, and brand rethinks worldwide keen to build and retain market share in long-established markets. 

German manufacturers though believe their much-lauded reputation for quality engineering, manufacturing, and servicing will keep their brands steady or even grow in some markets, including the highly competitive and cosmopolitan Middle East sector.

The German ‘consumer-driven’ approach was in focus recently at a Dubai event in which Al Gurg Living, part of the Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group, showcased two of its luxury brands: SieMatic and Heindl.

Thomas Heindl, launching his luxury, state-of-the-art safe and vault collection for connoisseur collectors, said building customer preferences into production from the design stage ensures the longevity of the product and brand.

“We start by sitting down with the customer to get a better understanding of what they are looking for, their taste preference with interior layouts – for instance, the number of watch winders, drawers, etc,” he said. “Then we go on to the materials – there is a vast selection to choose from. Most of our clients have an existing collection of distinguished items, such as watches and jewellery. Rather than putting these items in a regular bulky safe, we create a masterpiece for them.”

Heindl believes his design-focused safes, each of which can take up to 15 artisans close to 300 hours to create, will resonate well with the UAE’s growing high-net-worth population. The UAE has been tipped by Henley Global Citizens Report, which tracks global private wealth and investment migration trends, to attract the world’s largest net inflow of high-net-worth individuals (HNWI) this year. The HNWI market, Heindl says, will be swayed by Germany’s long-standing reputation for quality.

“This product is made in Germany, which famously has a high standard of quality. It combines everything, from the carpentry to our leather selection, to the material and safe building itself. If you look at the luxury cars and brands like Swiss watches, the standard is the highest you can get, and we have a very special eye set on this quality,” he added. 

The desire for unabashed quality will override the Middle East’s reputation for price sensitivity, according to Heindl, whose standardised safes retail at around Dh110,000 (€30,000) depending on the size. Prices for luxury vault rooms can reach seven-figures. “People care for their goods and want maximum security for them and that is what we provide,” Heindl says.

The timing of Heindl’s UAE entry may be opportune with revenue in the country’s luxury goods market expected to amount to US$2.6bn this year alone and grow annually by 3.36 per cent over the next five years with the largest segment being investment in luxury watches and jewellery.

Volker Betsch, Managing Director – Far East; at SieMatic which makes customised kitchens with superior workmanship echoes Germany’s precision manufacturing and reliability as market changers.

“The SieMatic collections are 100 per cent personalised, we suggest designs with varied sizes, shapes, and materials wherein the client would feel happy and satisfied. We have a wide selection of luxury materials and surfaces, from lacquer, laminate, and veneers to Matadors stone and ceramic. In the UAE, Al Gurg Living leads the implementation from discussions with customers to final fitouts. It’s a great partnership and we work very closely together,” he said, adding that a customised kitchen can take up to six months to complete.

German quality and reliability are just part of the entire spectrum. Betsch says reputation is a foundation on which innovation must build a competitive edge. 

“SeiMatic has been there for 90 years and the reason for our success is that we classify our kitchen as lifestyles,” he said. “We have been trendsetters for many years. In the 1960s, we introduced the first recess kitchen and the first lacquered kitchen in the 80s. We’ve now moved on to the SLS kitchen, a new interpretation of the recessed kitchen, which is an enormous success worldwide.”

The new, handle-free SieMatic SLX Ceramic, with fronts and countertops in robust ceramic that is insusceptible to scratches, moisture, or acid, won the German Design Award 2022 for ‘Excellent Product Design.’ This is a kitchen which we have designed and innovated with the stone manufacturer Inalco.  Its LED light channels in the horizontal and vertical shadow gaps can make a delicate SLX countertop appear to hover. The central island is a practical herb garden featuring a ceramic planter. 

SeiMatic has been in the region for 14 years and plans for more market breakthroughs in the near future.

“We will have a lot of new innovations on a small scale, some new materials, and we will bring out something very big, but that’s for 2024 and I cannot talk about it now,” he added.

For Al Gurg Living, the UAE’s homegrown lifestyle interior concept with an “experience centre” showroom in Umm Suqeim, its German partners’ focus on niche luxury and designer living, represents a meeting of fine minds.