Welcome to Dubai, Pierre! How do you feel being in your first Dubai store? Has it always been a goal to open here?
As a child born and raised in Belgium, places like Tokyo and Dubai were a dream. Even saying it out loud that I wanted to branch out here felt like a dream. So, to be here and receive such a warm welcome, is wonderful. It’s fantastic that Belgian chocolate is already held in high regard in Dubai. And seeing people react to Pierre Marcolini in such a big way brings me a lot of joy.
What does your Dubai store offer to its customers that’s different from your other stores around the world?
The way customers in Dubai consume chocolate is different to anywhere else in the world. Their expectations are very high. They expect choices and variety. This is why the Dubai store has more options than other stores. There is a diversity of products such as the Dubai Collection and specially-made baskets filled with a wide selection of chocolates ideal for gifting. Both the Arabica Coffee chocolate and the Cardamom chocolate are unique to the region.
You’re known for ethically sourcing your cocoa beans. What challenges do you face in this process?
The biggest challenge for the brand is maintaining the quality of the product. It takes a lot of time and travel to achieve this as I want to make sure I am in the right places, discovering new ethical practices to meet the quality of the products. But it never affects how creative I can be. In fact, it guarantees a level of authenticity for the brand. It doesn’t matter how much it costs me, it’s no problem, because it always adds value back to the brand.
Speaking of adding value to the brand, you’ve done a lot of celebrity collaborations, most recently with Victoria Beckham. How does this kind of partnership elevate the brand?
On a personal level, it challenges me creatively because it takes me out of my comfort zone. Collaborating with celebrities from different industries gives me freedom to enter and explore other universes too. With Victoria Beckham, I absorbed the world of fashion and for example, with Tom Dickson [the founder of Blendtec] it was the world of design.
The brand was founded in 1995 and now in the age of social media, how has it evolved?
Of course, it has helped giving the brand more exposure across audiences and provides direct communication to customers. This has definitely enhanced the quality for the product because we receive instant feedback and know exactly what they want, without a barrier or filter.
How much chocolate would you say you eat in an average a day?
Exactly 100 grams every day. I would say that 50 per cent of it is dark chocolate – it’s my favourite, because it’s very pure.
And finally, besides having a sweet tooth for chocolate, are there any other sweets that you indulge?
I love caramel, vanilla and chocolate ice cream. I’m quite classical when it comes to the flavours. And the big news for my summer collection is, I will produce small praline chocolates filled with ice cream.
Watch this space!