Middle East: 60 second round-up

Date : 12 June 2014

Showing how retailing in the region is evolving, we round up news from EMKE-owned LuLu as it investigates opportunities to build smaller stores in the UAE, Aramex looks to add click-and-collect lockers across the region and Al Meera sets out its expansion plans for Qatar.

Al Meera to continue expansion in Qatar

Qatar-based Al Meera has announced that it will invest US$412 million in the building of nine shopping centres in 2014, as part of a longer term plan to add 15 in the country. The company’s chief executive, Guy Sauvage, discussed expansion plans, which will likely see each shopping centre anchored by an Al Meera hypermarket, as part of its first quarter results announcement, where sales rose 14.6%. Sauvage said that Al Meera would also be investigating further opportunities to expand in Oman, where it purchased three hypermarkets and two supermarkets in 2013.

LuLu investigates ‘small store’ opportunities

Emke Group-owned, UAE-based LuLu has said that it is looking to build smaller stores in Dubai as a way of entering new areas in the emirate and building its presence in suburban communities. With LuLu’s standard stores being between 10,000 and 11,500 sq. m, its investigation of smaller stores means it is looking at building stores in the region of 5,000 sq. m. The addition of smaller stores will be part of LuLu’s plans to add more than 20 outlets in the short term.

Discussing the development, LuLu’s executive director, Ashrafali M A, said: “Small format [or express] outlets were never a priority earlier for the Group; much of our investments and strategy was still centred around what more could be done with the larger or destination stores. Now, however, there is a much higher resident base within Dubai’s newer communities and locations elsewhere in the city — hence the need to experiment with smaller outlets.”

Aramex to add click and collect lockers across Middle East and North Africa

Underlining how ecommerce is growing across the region, Jordan-based logistics company Aramex has said that, as part of a joint venture with Poland’s InPost, it would be looking to add a network of lockers across the Middle East and North Africa. Aramex said that it was aiming to open the first set of lockers by the end of 2014, without detailing where they would be added. However, with the UAE dominating in terms of online sales in the region it is likely to be where Aramex opens first.

Commenting on the development, Aramex’s chief operating officer, Iyad Kamal, said: “Across our markets in the Middle East and Africa, we are seeing the rapid growth of the e-commerce industry and our new partnership with InPost will enable us to continue to capitalise on this trend by strengthening our e-commerce services.”