Gulfnews: Creativity offsets risks in furnishings foray

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Dubai: Sofia Zigangirova is not one to be tied down by doing the tried and tested, even for form’s sake. If a new opportunity presents itself, the CEO of Dubai-based Stars Dome Group is quick to take it up whatever be the immediate challenges.

Casa Shamuzzi CEO Sofia Zigangirova

When a proposal came through to make a concerted push into high-end retail, she did not pause beyond a moment’s reflection. So came into being Casa Shamuzzi, a retail concept that would offer branded home furnishings by Roberto Serio, who in a two-decade span has designed interiors for royalty, heads of state and anyone who could afford the bespoke services.

“I see an opportunity and capitalise on that by executing it differently to anyone else,” said Sofia on what it take to transition Casa Shamuzzi into reality. “This obviously means being out on your own most of the time and with that comes more risk… but it is a calculated risk.”

Investor interest

Retail is but the latest foray for Sofia who launched the Stars Dome Group in Dubai during 2004. Through it came SD Realty which offered real estate related services for the better part of the recent gold rush. The firm struck a rich vein by targeting the substantial investor interest from Russia and the other CIS markets drawn to investment opportunities in Dubai.

As with all good runs, this one too had a finish line. It also heralded tumultuous times for the local real estate services industry, and a good many that came into being in the mid-2000s closed shop leaving a trail of shattered entrepreneurial expectations and investor hopes. It’s a legacy that still continues to haunt the local property market.

But as evidenced by the recent launch of Casa Shamuzzi, Sofia has not let the downturn get in the way of moving on to potentially better things. But that does not necessarily mean concerns are not there.

Servicing projects

“While the property market has abated, there is still a high demand to fit-out projects that are still under construction or newly completed. The key to ensuring success is we have differentiated ourselves from others in our style and design, which has attracted a lot of interest especially in the Middle East, the CIS and the Far East.”

“We will have a retail presence in major cities and this will target retail as well as servicing projects.”

The new realities of a post-recession economy have also not led to any drastic tweak in her gameplan. “Our business model is very simple and we like to keep it that way. We have weathered the financial crisis well and have positioned ourselves to take advantage of the upturn.

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