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Private jets to flamingos: the personal shopping lists of the super rich

Adult, Female, Person Pexels/RDNE Stock project
The Middle East luxury online shopping market is predicted to more than double to $37bn by 2030
  • Personalised shopping for clients
  • Gulf luxury online shops worth $16bn
  • Watches particularly popular

The luxury e-commerce retailer Pastor & Co, which boasts it can supply clients with everything from Picasso paintings to swans, is aiming to pass $10 million in profits this year, buoyed by strong interest from the rich and famous across the Mena region.

The personalised shopping service gets requests to source anything from a rare Fendi chair, paintings, private jets and secluded islands, to elephants, flamingos and swans.

“Elephants I didn’t get,” says co-founder Solomon Pastor. “Just ethically, it’s not something we wanted to do, but for things like flamingos and swans, which we’ve had requests for within this region, they’re pretty easy for us to access and we did service the clients for that.”

The swans, Pastor says, were for a Gulf royal family, to sit in their front garden. The request provides an insight into the company’s client base across the region, which makes up 40 percent of its global business.

A further 40 percent is from the US, while Europe and Asia make up the remainder.

The luxury online shopping market in the Middle East was estimated by the Boston Consulting Group to be worth $16 billion in 2023. BCG predicted that it could rise to as much as $37 billion by 2030.

Pastor & Co was initially set up as SneakerPlug in 2017 by Levi Pastor, Solomon’s brother. Then aged just 13, he began by trading sneakers, apparel and accessories for UK, US and Latin American music artists and producers.

“Levi toured with a couple of them and was basically just sorting out their wardrobe. So anything that they needed, they asked him and Levi went to source those items,” Solomon said.

The company was established under the name Pastor & Co in 2021 and has been completely “boot-strapped” – grown without raising any outside funds.

It has signed up with the global luxury e-commerce platform Farfetch and sourced sneakers for its high-end customers for 18 months before moving to Dubai in 2022 and branching out.

“We expanded from sneakers and now we sell watches, art, exclusive vehicles, private jets, private islands,” Solomon says.

Wristwatch, Arm, Body PartCreative Commons/S.Yume
Luxury watches are particularly popular with clients in the Middle East

The company now has offices in Dubai, London and Hong Kong, and has just signed a deal with the Dubai-based luxury etailer Ounass to offer its services to its high-spending clientele around the GCC.

Luxury watches, Solomon says, are particularly popular with clients in the Middle East. For example, the global market for Swiss luxury watches was worth 26.7 billion Swiss francs ($30.8 billion) in 2022. The UAE was ninth in the world for Swiss watch imports, worth 1.2 billion Swiss francs.

“In this region, you get two quite different types of clients because we’re obviously a multicultural society, especially in Dubai,” Solomon says.

“We do get the clients that are looking for the loud pieces. So full branded items, a lot of diamonds on their watches, those kind of items.

“And then the other side, which is more of the locals and particularly the men, they do like to dim down their fashion and they like to go for stealth – so lots of pieces that are high quality, but not shouting the brand at all.

“We see women like more of the gold and diamonds. And the men, if it’s gold, it’s more white gold.”

Solomon is in the process of negotiating to buy a private island in the Seychelles for a client who splits their time between Russia and the UAE.

“We love to take requests and we really love a challenge,” he says.

Five most notable requests
  1. Private Island in the Seychelles for a Russian client who lives between Moscow and Dubai
  2. ⁠Ferrari 250 GTO for a European businessman
  3. Undisclosed Leonardo Da Vinci painting
  4. ⁠Swans and flamingos for a Middle Eastern royal family
  5. Elephants for a South American politician

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