Chocolatiers hit the sweet spot in run-up to Eid
Every year in the last three days of Ramadan, all employees of Patchi’s UAE headquarters – without exception – switch off the Dubai office’s lights at 3pm and head directly to the brand’s retail outlets.
They stay there until the doors close, serving customers alongside the sales staff, in a routine that has played out since the brand opened its first shop here more than 30 years ago.
“It’s part of our culture and it has always been like that. In the UAE we strongly promote it,” said Aline Ashkarian, country general manager for Patchi.
And it includes everyone who works at the HQ – including the chief executive, who is based in Lebanon, but visits the UAE every month for a week at a time.
“We have a very funny story actually,” Ms Ashkarian said.
“Once we were in Dubai Mall and all the staff were busy and a client bought a big tray, so there was no one to deliver it to the car. So the chief executive went and delivered the tray to the car for the customer. So the customer thought it was one of the office workers [and gave him money.]”
The annual routine is partly to support its staff through the Ramadan and Eid rush – the holy month is without question the luxury chocolate brand’s busiest time of year – and partly tradition.
The company launches a special Ramadan collection of chocolates with dried fruit and nuts, which it sells in its shops in the first 15 to 20 days of the holy month. It is followed by a second collection in the days immediately preceding Eid, when sales can rise by as much as 70 per cent.
In the UAE, people traditionally give two types of biscuit
Caho Chocolatier, an artisan chocolate brand that launched in December, had not been expecting such a rush
called kaak and maamoul – small cakes made from pistachios and honey or filled with sweet date paste, both dusted in icing sugar – to celebrate Eid, but chocolates are becoming increasingly popular.
“Ramadan is the highest season we have in terms of sales and work,” Ms Ashkarian said.
“It’s part of the culture that the [second] day of Eid you need to go and visit your relatives and close family and congratulate them and take a nice tray of Patchi chocolates with you.”
Patchi may be one of the biggest chocolate companies in the industry, but smaller brands have also experienced a similar jump in business in the run-up to Eid.
Caho Chocolatier, an artisan chocolate brand that launched in December, had not been expecting such a big rush. The company has experienced a 70 per cent jump in orders during Ramadan.
“We weren’t expecting that at all. If we had foreseen that we would have at least increased our staff. It was our first Ramadan. We knew we would take a share of the market but we didn’t expect that much,” said Dana Ashkar, Caho’s founder.
“We are short on a delivery driver, I am doing some of the deliveries and I am seven months pregnant.”
The company has had a minimum of about 50 orders a day online this week and about the same number in-store.
Corporate sales are also strong, a trend that Patchi has also experienced.
“It’s a very strong culture now. Corporates contribute about 30 per cent of our sales,” Ms Ashkarian said.
“Most companies here give gifts twice a year. Once in Ramadan and the other at the end of the year. They are divided between National Day and Christmas, depending on who you are gifting and the occasion.”
Dana Ashkar, founder of Caho Chocolatier, did not expect a 70 per cent jump in orders for Ramadan
All Patchi’s employees help out in retail stores for Eid, says Aline Ashkarian, its UAE general manager