In 1996, an Egyptian brand named ‘Carina’ was founded, providing innovative and creative bodywear solutions for many women. Since then, Carina has grown tremendously, and has currently become one of the most competitive clothes brands globally. Also, it became one of Egypt’s leading fashion retailer.
The company was able to achieve such progress under female leadership, as the CEO and chairperson of Carina is a woman named Halla Al Kasm.
Hence, Daily News Egypt interviewed Al Kasm, to learn more about Carina bodywear, where the idea for it came from, the expected sales growth, the markets it export to, in addition to Carina’s expansion plans in the next period. The transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:
Would you please tell us about Carina Egypt’s expected revenues by end of 2019, as well as sales, and operations markets by end of 2019, in addition to the last results?
Carina considers 2018 the “year of development” as on a brand-level, Carina has planned and executed an upgrade in quality, a variation of product lines, introduced new designs, and many other developments. All these developments aim to take the brand to a whole new level and overtake the opportunities created after the pound floatation. Accordingly, we expect at least a 30% growth by the end of 2019, and expanding to at least 20 countries.
You sais you overtook opportunities after pound floatation, could you please tell me your opinion about the effect of pound floatation on the clothing industry, and how did it affect Carina bodywear? Also, in your opinion, what are the challenges or obstacles that the clothing industry faces nowadays in Egypt?
The challenges we all face nowadays in the clothing industry are actual opportunities for us. I don’t call them obstacles, I believe they are challenges. I always believe that there is an opportunity in every challenge.
For example, the pound floatation has enabled Carina to create new paths and pursue them on various levels. On the brand level; Carina has increased its product lines and enhanced its fabrics to compete with international standards. On the corporate level; Carina has increased its employees to contribute to future developments and plans. We believe that looking at the right side of the coin is the key.
When people think about Carina, they always ask where Carina bodywear’s idea came from? Could you please tell us more about the story of establishing Carina?
Carina came to life when a girl who had a dream decided to become a businesswoman. Ever since I was a little girl I dreamed of having my own boutique; I was passionate enough to turn it into a business. It really came to life when I had the idea of making a bodywear that would fill the untapped needs of women and it really made a breakthrough. The brand’s real start began when we started fulfilling the market gaps that women had. Every woman wants to feel stylish and wear the latest trends feeling comfortable and confident.
What about your market share in Egypt?
We have seen an increase in our market share, especially after the pound floatation. Local business on a general note started acquiring a bigger market share simply because they offer more affordable products than international brands.
How many factories, does Carina have in Egypt? And what are their production capacities? And how many distribution centres does Carina have in Egypt?
Concerning the factories, we have two, meanwhile, we reached 120 stores in Egypt. Furthermore, we participated in two franchising events this year; the first was the Franchising Expo in Saudi Arabia and MAGIC in Las Vegas in order to introduce Egyptian-made products and achieve a presence in the global market.
Does Carina have any expansion plans in its factories in Egypt?
Carina always has future plans to expand its product lines. Ever since the pound flotation, we have been able to capture every opportunity.
How many employees does Carina have?
We have around 2,000 employees, 70% of which are women, as we are a brand made by empowered women to empower women.
Where do you get raw materials?
We are an Egyptian business. Thus, we have a mission to support other Egyptian businesses and make sure that the majority of our raw materials are local. Some minor materials like threads are imported to ensure that we maintain the quality and standards that people expect from Carina.
What are the main products that contribute to the firm’s annual sales?
Our bodywear category dominates our sales as it became an essential item in every Egyptian woman’s wardrobe. It helps women be more confident as it completes their outfits.
Are there any plans to introduce a new line of products to Carina in Egypt?
We recently introduced a cotton wear line that is both comfy and stylish. The pyjama line was a huge success among our customers and we’re currently working on introducing more lines.
To what countries does Carina export its products? The company’s exports account for how much of the firm’s total sales?
Carina currently exports to over 10 countries, and we are working on various product lines especially when it comes to the cotton product category. Exporting occupies around 20% of the firm’s total sales and that’s just the start.
Do you intend to enter more export markets?
Yes! Carina has a plan to flourish in around 12 more countries in 2018.
My dream is going global with the brand, to have a strong e-commerce platform, and to turn Carina to an intimate friend of every woman and girl and be with her, supporting her whenever she needs support and confidence and making her happy.
How many CSR projects do you implement, and what about future projects in this regard?
Because our main mission is to empower women, we are always keen on implementing CSR activities. The latest was our collaboration with the Food Bank Foundation and the Lebanese designer Aisha Ramadan, to develop sleeping bags for refugees, and providing work opportunities for struggling women. In the future, Carina will be developing a CSR project in Aswan, to create work opportunities for women, to be able to support women across Egypt, and empower them to lead their lives.
What is your advice for new entrepreneurs?
Have a dream, be persistent, be confident, and don’t let anyone stop you from achieving your dream.