The honor was presented by FFANY President and CEO Ron Fromm to Patrick Chalhoub, co-CEO of the fashion firm, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year.
FFANY also posthumously honored Vince Camuto with the Jodi Fisher Humanitarian Award at the fundraiser, an annual event to raise funds for breast cancer research.
In his speech to the crowd, Chalhoub expressed his gratitude for the recognition from the U.S. footwear community and emphasized the importance of the night’s philanthropic efforts.
Since its founding in 1955, Chalhoub Group has emerged as a powerhouse in luxury retail in the Middle East and has paved the way for Dubai-based distribution despite tremendous odds — including several relocations due to regional unrest and a civil war.
In an interview with Footwear News earlier this month, Chalhoub described the secret to the company’s success. “We are brand builders and passionate people, with a strong family DNA,” said the executive, who joined the firm in 1979 to work alongside his parents, Michel and Widad, the company’s co-founders.
Now, Chalhoub Group operates more than 650 retail stores across 14 countries in the Middle East and employs more than 12,000 people.
It operates several innovative retail concepts, including Tanagra, a lifestyle gift chain with nine stores; Wojooh, a beauty shop offering fragrances and skin care; Katakeet, a children’s luxury store; and Level Shoe District, the globally recognized shoe destination spanning 96,000 square feet, with 40 designer boutiques.
The group also manages franchises for top fashion brands and retailers, including Michael Kors, Carolina Herrera, Lacoste, Tory Burch and Saks Fifth Avenue.
“In the past 10 years, we’ve been able to express ourselves and adapt to our customers’ aspirations,” said Chalhoub. “We’ve developed our own concepts and have our Middle Eastern customer looking for a deeper and more modern choice. We’re able to offer an incredible retail experience with depth and width.”
Reaching this level of success wasn’t easy for the Chalhoubs. First established in Syria, the business was moved to Lebanon and then to Kuwait due to a civil war in Lebanon. Then, in 1990, the company made its home in Dubai.
Now, the region’s luxury market is thriving, and the company’s biggest obstacle is keeping up, said Chalhoub.
“We go back more than 50 years, and our group has now moved to a [positive] outlook where you can find everything luxury in the area. Our customer is more aware than ever before,” he said. “That is the challenge we are facing — bringing a new multibrand approach. It is very important to offer all of the depth and knowledge and be competitive in a competitive environment.”