Category Archives: #middleast

Kuwait’s Alshaya invests in Alabbar’s e-commerce platform Noon

Kuwait’s Alshaya invests in Alabbar’s e-commerce platform Noon

Retail franchise operator acquires stake in soon to be launched online marketplace

Kuwait-based retail franchise operator MH Alshaya Co has acquired a strategic stake in Noon, the region’s new e-commerce platform, it said on Thursday.

Additionally, Alshaya said it will become a seller on Noon’s marketplace platform, listing a portfolio of international brands covering the fashion, health & beauty and home and lifestyle categories.

The company did not say how much it paid for the stake in Noon, which is set to launch later this year.

Alshaya becomes the latest large retailer to list its products on Noon, which serves as a digital platform for retailers to reach online customers in the Middle East.

Mohammed Alshaya, executive chairman of Alshaya, said: “We see great value in our partnership with Noon, which complements our existing online channels. We are impressed by Noon’s capabilities, and we are excited to partner with the Noon team to present a winning value proposition for the region’s online shoppers.

“Our partnership with Noon will allow us to expand our customer base, reach new market segments, and participate in the next level of growth in regional e-commerce.”

Mohamed Alabbar, founder of Noon, added: “It is our privilege to partner with Alshaya and give our customers access to Alshaya’s leading international brands. Noon brings a new business model for e-commerce, developing a strong supply chain that benefits regional businesses. We will work with the region’s leading brands and retailers to help them grow their business through Noon.”

In July, Faraz Khalid, the former co-founder and managing director of fashion online retailer Namshi, was appointed CEO of Noon.

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SOUQ.com to purchase Wing.ae marketplace for merchants and couriers in the UAE

SOUQ.com today announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to purchase Wing.ae, a marketplace for merchants and couriers in the UAE, providing innovative mobile and web-based user-friendly delivery solutions for businesses and individual consumers. SOUQ.com previously invested in Wing.ae and will be acquiring 100% of the company.

Wing.ae now has the full backing of SOUQ.com, a subsidiary of Amazon.com, and this investment demonstrates the continued commitment of all three companies to provide SOUQ.com customers with a world class experience. Wing.ae will continue to invest in growing its same and next day delivery service in the region, enabling greater convenience for Wing.ae’s customers, including SOUQ.com.

Ronaldo Mouchawar, SOUQ.com CEO & Co-Founder, comments: “At SOUQ.com, our customers will remain our key focus and we will continue to deliver an exceptional online shopping experience. Fast dependable delivery is key to this, and Wing.ae provides SOUQ.com customers with more convenience for their same and next day delivery. With Amazon’s support, we are putting all our efforts in providing an ever-improving shopping experience for customers in the Middle East.”

“The UAE is a leading e-commerce and smart hub in the region, and in this demanding business we work to fill the logistics supply gaps to offer customers the excellent service they want as fast as possible,” says Muzaffar Karabev, CEO and Co-Founder of WING.ae. “With the support of SOUQ.com, Wing will accelerate investments into our technology, infrastructure and regional coverage to provide innovative delivery solutions and to make online shopping for SOUQ.com customers and merchants even more convenient.”

UAE’s Al-Futtaim said to be in talks to buy M&S business in Hong Kong, Macau

UK retail giant Marks & Spencer reportedly in discussions over deal for Hong Kong and Macau operations

UAE-based conglomerate Al-Futtaim is reportedly in talks with UK retail giant Marks & Spencer for the possible purchase and franchising of its business in Hong Kong and Macau.

The UK’s Financial Times said the talks could see Al-Futtaim become the sole franchisee for M&S in Hong Kong and Macau, adding that M&S has operated in Hong Kong since 1988 and has 27 stores in the city.

Al-Futtaim has worked with M&S since it opened the British retailer’s first store in Dubai in 1998.

The deal covers only the company’s retail business and its Hong Kong sourcing operations will remain wholly-owned, the FT added.

Virtual reality: the Middle East mall of the future

Digital innovation is revolutionising the retail landscape in the Middle East – and not only online

The growth of retail in the Middle East has been nothing short of remarkable. London, Paris, Milan and New York still inevitably dominate the global shopping scene, but as pioneers in the retail space, emerging markets such as the Middle East are becoming very much the watchword for innovation.

But whilst the retail scene is a crucial catalyst for attracting footfall in the Middle East, as the digital economy develops, bricks-and-mortar locations need to evolve to stay relevant for future decades. Technology clearly plays a central role in this. With the rise of e-commerce in the region, it is now more important than ever that the physical mall develops and keeps apace with the changing demands of the consumer.

Take the success story of Majid Al Futtaim’s Mall of the Emirates, for instance. One can easily spend a day inside Mall of the Emirates; you can eat, drink, go to the cinema and even go skiing all before you have even thought about shopping. And this experience is far from unique. The Beach in Dubai’s Jumeirah Beach Residences (JBR) also seamlessly integrates commerce and entertainment, combining shopping, the sea and an outdoor cinema.

With the UAE’s population expected to grow to 10 million by 2030, aided by more expats and Expo 2020 tourism, the retail destination/proposition as an integrated social, entertainment and leisure destination is likely to boom. After 50 years of operating in the region, this is something Atkins is seeing more of — both in the retail space and wider sectors.

A blurring of lines, with buildings becoming multi-functional and multi-faceted can be seen in some of the region’s most important projects, such as the Burj Al Arab, Bahrain Trade Centre, Durrat Al Bahrain and the Dubai Opera. Creating an integrated retail and leisure centre destination is critical to fuse the social and urban space. And it is the customer experience that is driving this approach.

Motorola, for example, has created a personal shopping device where shoppers can scan their items as they select them, significantly reducing checkout time. Beauty retailers such as Sephora are experimenting with a virtual reality mirror, enabling shoppers to test different eyeshadows and lipsticks without applying them to their skin.

Big data will help retailers understand and market to their consumers better, suggesting products that may be relevant even before the customer has walked through the door.

All of these aspects will make the physical retail outlet more efficient. Checkout space will be reduced because customers will be able to complete transactions virtually from inside the dressing room or on their mobile phones, eliminating the need to queue.

Whilst e-commerce is growing in fortitude in the region (bolstered by the likes of Amazon’s acquisition of Souq.com), we still see the need for interaction with the product. The Middle East has a culture that favours the personal experience, and so whilst technology won’t replace this, it can still absolutely enhance it.

What we predict in years to come is how the experience will change. For example, instead of going to a car showroom to see a range of models, customers will be able to interact with virtual car models instead of physical ones. The need for an extensive physical stock may become redundant, thus streamlining and reducing the retail space to make it more profitable.

Car parks may also become redundant. The real estate footprint for car parks alone is currently extensive and costly. In the future, we will see more sophisticated transport offerings, with an increased choice of public transport, and autonomous vehicles reducing the need for large amounts of land dedicated purely to the housing of private cars. And less space for cars means more space for retail and opportunities to generate more revenue.

But of course, whilst there are numerous opportunities that technology presents to the Middle East retail sector, this is not without its challenges. Unlike their developed counterparts, shopping destinations in the Middle East have one major issue to contend with: the climate. With temperatures well into the mid-40s in the summer months, how should retailers respond to the natural environment?

This poses both a problem and an opportunity. Whilst shopper footfall increases in the summer as tourists and residents seek sanctuary in the cool environments of the malls, engineers and designers need to ensure that all adjoining infrastructure is set up to cope with the extreme temperatures.

Customer experience and comfort fundamentally remains key. Most amenities need to be enclosed, with covered walkways and transport infrastructure located close by. Those shopping areas that have outdoor elements, such as Citywalk and Boxpark in Dubai, require careful thought and planning to ensure they remain attractive, year-round destinations.

The future of retail in the Middle East is far from a one-size-fits-all approach. The digital world is fundamentally changing the way we shop. No longer are malls simply a collection of physical stores or somewhere to go for a few hours at the weekend; they are becoming fully integrated communities that fuse together social and urban environments. For the Middle East to compete on the world stage, it will be vital that the retail sector embraces digital innovation offline as well as online.

Abercrombie & Fitch to open first store in Jeddah

Abercrombie & Fitch to open first store in Jeddah as part of Middle East expansion

0The new store will launch in the Red Sea Mall in September and will offer the brand’s Autumn/Winter collection for men, women and children.

The expansion is part of a franchise agreement between Majid Al Futtaim Fashion and Abercrombie & Fitch.

Majid Al Futtaim introduced the Abercrombie & Fitch brand to Kuwait in 2015 by opening stores at 360 Mall and The Avenues, followed by a flagship store in Mall of the Emirates. Two further stores opened in Qatar at Doha Festival City and Mall of Qatar in March 2017. Including the launch in Saudi Arabia, Majid Al Futtaim partners with Abercrombie & Fitch on a total of six Abercrombie & Fitch and three Abercrombie kids stores in the Middle East in a mix of franchise and joint venture arrangements.

The 728 square metre store in Jeddah will open in a new extension of the Red Sea Mall.

Fran Horowitz, chief executive of Abercrombie & Fitch, said: “We are looking forward to bringing our unique Abercrombie & Fitch store-based brand experience to our customers in Saudi Arabia, and complementing our existing omnichannel capabilities, supporting our goal of providing our customers with the ability to engage with our brands, whenever, wherever and however they choose to do so. We are proud to have Majid Al Futtaim as a partner to drive and support our continued expansion throughout the region.”

The franchise agreement will see the brands eventually expanding into Oman and Bahrain.

Emaar announces plans for new Dubai Hills Mall

Emaar Properties has unveiled plans to build a new mall in the Dubai Hills Estate, one of the largest master-planned communities being developed in Dubai, UAE, in joint venture with Meraas.

Scheduled to open in late 2019, Dubai Hills Mall will feature 2 million sq ft of leasable space spread out over ground and first floor levels, more than 750 retail and food and beverage outlets, family entertainment.

The mall will also feature a cineplex, a 65,000-sq-ft hypermarket, seven anchor retail experience stores, and dedicated parking spaces for over 7,000 vehicles.

Located on the corner for Al Khail Road and Umm Suqeim street, the mall can be seamlessly accessed from Downtown Dubai, Emirates Hills, Dubai Marina, Arabian Ranches and other nearby communities.

The architecture and interiors take inspiration from the concept of a central courtyard with a series of interconnected streetscapes. The angular layout provides easy orientation and a clear focus on the central space for events and special features. The exterior boulevards and concert spaces offer more leisure options, making the mall a perfect escape for all types of visitors, Emaar said.

Abdulla Al Habbai, group chairman of Meraas, said: “As the centrepiece of Dubai Hills Estate, a Smart city of the future, the Dubai Hills Mall will bring incredible value to the mega-development and further energise Dubai’s retail sector.”

Mohamed Alabbar, chairman of Emaar Properties, said: “Integrating advanced technology features with the principles of a regional mall, it will be a socially and culturally inspiring space for people, young and old, residents and visitors, to meet, connect and relax.”

The mall complements the destination’s high-end residential, commercial and office spaces, chic hospitality offerings, enriching leisure facilities and its prestigious golf fairways.

Dubai Hills Estate includes a championship golf course and a central park surrounded by 4,400 villas and townhouses, and 22,000 apartments. – TradeArabia News Service

Emaar Launches New Retail Haven In Dubai Hills

In collaboration with Meraas, Emaar Properties has unveiled Dubai Hills Mall project, a family retail district within master development Dubai Hills Estate, slated to elevate the emirate’s retail offering upon completion in 2019.

The highly-anticipated destination will boast over 18.75ha of gross leasable area accommodating some 750 fashion and dining outlets.

Complementing the lifestyle landmarks of the location, the venue will also attract visitors with four major family entertainment and leisure centres, including a cineplex, outdoor concert area, hypermarket and seven anchor retail experience stores, among others.

Mohamed Alabbar, chairman, Emaar Properties, said, “Dubai Hills Mall will stand out in the retail sector, and support the tourism and hospitality sectors through highly engaging leisure and entertainment attractions.”

UK luxury retailer Fortnum & Mason closes its Dubai store

The multi-level store in Downtown Dubai was opened in 2014

British luxury retailer Fortnum & Mason has closed down its store in Dubai, it confirmed on Thursday.

Located in Downtown Dubai, the multi-level store was opened in 2014 as Fortnum & Mason’s first location outside London.

However, the brand said in a brief statement that the slowdown in the economy had led to the outlet’s closure last month.

“Due to the well-documented ongoing challenges with market conditions in Dubai, we have made the considered decision with our partner Al Khayyat Investments (AKI) that we will cease trading on the 9th of July,” it said.

“Fortnum’s will continue to be an English brand with a global palate. Our products are available to our customers in Dubai and around the world as part of our offer on fortnumandmason.com,” it added.

The British brand started in London in the early 1700s, and is most famous for its tea, confectionery and hampers.

In a statement, AKI also confirmed the news but added that it will continue to be a “key market leader for our other international brands”.

According to its website, the other food and beverage brands in the company’s retail portfolio include Il Caffe di Roma, Espressions – that also features Lavazza products and Burger Fuel.

Despite the softening in regional economic conditions, consumer spending in the UAE is growing strongly, according to recent research released by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Spending is expected to exceed $261bn in 2021, compared to nearly $183bn in 2016, the report found.

The research, based on recent data from Euromonitor International, revealed that consumer expenditure per household during 2016 in the UAE (around $103,000) was the highest when compared to other GCC countries.

Looking at consumer spending in the UAE in 2016, while housing was identified as the top category with $75.7bn, food and non-alcoholic beverages came second with $24.8bn worth of spending during the year.

Marks & Spencer’s flagship store has re-opened in Dubai

New dining options and food hall at British retailer in Dubai Festival City Mall

Following a major revamp, Marks & Spencer’s flagship store in Dubai Festival City Mall has re-opened. For the first time in the UAE, you can now take a swift break from shopping at M&S and experience what the retailer is calling a premium, table-waited dining experience at the M&S Café.

The new dining experience is offering up a range of mid-retail therapy goodies, including pastries, smoothies, soups, salads, sandwiches, pastas and even British favourites including fish and chips (see Pierchic’s claims to the world’s poshest fish and chips here) and afternoon tea.

But the relaunch hasn’t just focused on the café alone. M&S has also launched its Food Hall, showcasing more than 1,200 premium grocery brands and lines. From fresh fruit and veggies to oven meals and daily staples, M&S is bringing its signature British quality to Dubai Festival City.

There’s also a brand-new M&S Home department, with the widest range of the brand’s homewares in the UAE. Expect new bedding and towel ranges, crockery and crystal glassware, for example. All of which will go alongside the store’s existing range of fashion for men, women and kids.

We’re hoping the M&S Food Hall will be stocking its bottles of Belgian chocolate milkshake – they are unbelievable.

Open Sun-Wed 10am-1pm; Thu-Sat 10am-midnight. Dubai Festival City Mall, www.marksandspencerme.com (04 206 6466).

Xiaomi opens Mideast’s first store in Dubai

Chinese technology company, Xiaomi, is focusing on offline stores to boost sales after suffering setbacks at the hands of local competitors over the past two years.
The firm was the top seller in China in 2014 and 2015 but lost ground to Huawei, Oppo, Vivo and Apple last year.
This year, the company has moved back into the top five ranking worldwide with a year-on-year growth of 58.9 per cent in the second quarter, according to research firm International Data Corporation’s (IDC) estimates.
“2017 has been a good year for us. We have become number two in India and number four in China. We initially started with an online model but one of the key principles of Xiaomi is selling at near cost. We realised that we could open our own stores and sell the products at an online price, without losing money,” Donovan Sung, director of product management and marketing at Xiaomi Global, told Gulf News on Thursday after opening its first authorised Mi store in the Middle East in partnership with its regional distributor, Task. (Mi is the abbreviation and the logo of Xiaomi Inc.)
The company also unveiled two new smartphones — Mi 6 and Mi Max 2 on Thursday.
The 1,500 square feet Mi store at BurJuman Centre in Dubai is with an initial investment of more than Dh2 million. “We open stores where there is high traffic. If we were selling only mobile phones, then customers would come every two years. Once you have more than 300 products displayed, we find that more customers come often to find out what new products we have,” Sung said.
Ravi Matthew, deputy CEO and General Manager of Task, said that step by step, Xiaomi aims to bring all its ecosystem to this region. While the company is best known for phones, it has invested in 77 start-ups and now offers air purifiers, drones, TVs, speakers, TV set-top boxes, electric cycles, robots and robot vacuum cleaners.
“We are looking for space in other malls in the UAE. We will be opening three more outlets in Dubai by end of this year. We are also planning to have stores in other emirates also,” he said.
Offline sales
He added that offline sales will be quite significant for the company. In India and China, only 30 per cent of the mobile phone sales come from online while the other 70 per cent come from offline. The percentage of online smartphone sales is much lower than that in the Gulf. So, the offline market is “very important for us”.
The Chinese company is planning to open three new offline stores in Egypt in the next two months.
Sung said that it has 140 offline Mi retail stores in China and hopes to have 1,000 shops in China and 1,000 abroad over the next three years.
“Our focus is still on smartphones but IoT [internet of Things] is important because we want to offer a full range of services to our fans. The smartphone will be the centre and everything can be managed through the phone,” Sung said.

Fashion retailer Max Fashion opens first store in Malaysia

OFFERING high quality fashionable products at great prices, Max Fashion has launched its first store in Malaysia at IOI City Mall, Putrajaya.

Max Fashion is part of the Landmark Group, which is one of the largest retail conglomerates in the Middle East and India with its headquarters in Dubai, UAE.
The store was launched by Landmark Group group director and board manager Ramanathan Hariharan. Also present was artiste Scha Al-Yahya.
“Max Fashion started in Dubai in 2004 and this year marks our 13th year in the fashion and footwear industry.
“We offer our customers trendy and fashionable items but at very reasonable prices,” said Ramanathan, adding that Max currently has a total of 400 stores with 10 million loyal customers.
Offering well-designed products at a bargain, Ramanathan believes there is an immense potential for growth and is looking forward to expanding to other parts of the country, especially in the Klang Valley.
“I believe this is the right time for our brand to enter the Malaysian market and I am very excited to engage with the customers,” he said.
Max Fashion hopes to provide the best shopping experience for their customers.
“We also want our customers to have a memorable shopping experience, so we broadened the scope of products to not only include clothes for men and women, but also trendy footwear and accessories,” he said.
In the next six months, Max Fashion will open several more stores in the country, specifically in the Klang Valley, and is working on an online store within the next year.

$1bn Abu Dhabi mall on track for 2018 launch

UAE-based Gulf Capital said more than 76 per cent of the work has been completed on its $1-billion retail venture coming up in Abu Dhabi and is on track for opening by the end of 2018.
Al Maryah Central, located at Al Maryah Island, is a joint venture project between Gulf Capital and the US-based Related Company.
The project is progressing well, on tack and on budget. It will open by the end of next year, reported Gulf News, citing Gulf Capital’s top official.
“The construction will finish in September next year and we need a bit of time for getting approvals from the regulatory and governmental bodies before we open the mall,” stated CEO Dr Karim Al Solh.
The 2.8 million sq ft mall will feature the first Macy’s outside of the US, the first Bloomingdale’s in Abu Dhabi and 20 specialist Al Tayer stores as part of the 400 store retail offering.
In addition, Al Maryah Central will include 100 restaurants and cafés, a 21-screen Vox Cinema with Imax and a host of other attractions. Subsequent phases of the development will include residential units and a hotel in two high-rise towers.
According to him, the mall will have a mix of entertainment and dining that will drive a lot of traffic.
“About 20 per cent of the mall will have food and beverage component and 10 per cent entertainment. That is important because you just can’t have retail alone,” he noted.
“Apart from this, we are bringing a number of new brands to the region. This will be a unique mall on par with what you see in the US or Europe,” explained Al Sohl.
On the leasing activity, Al Solh said 50 per cent of the retail space is already leased with a number of new potential customers showing interest. “We are expecting 70 per cent of the mall to be leased by the end of this year,” he told Gulf News.
The new shopping mall will be linked to the adjacent property, The Galleria Mall, which opened in 2013 and was also developed by Gulf Related, said Al Sohl.
On its regional projects, the company chief said its residential project in Saudi Arabia will be built in phases due to slowdown in the economy. The firm is building 520 units including villas, town houses, and apartments.

Dubai prepares for three-day shopping bonanza

Dubai retailers are gearing up for a three-day ‘Super Sale’ in the emirate starting Thursday May 18.

More than 750 retailers across the emirate – more than 250 brands – will slash prices, knocking between 30 percent and 90 percent off products.
Some of the brands offering discounts include Guess, Steve Madden, Kurt Geiger, Roberto Cavalli, Galeries Lafayette, Furla, Missoni, Boutique 1, Scotch and Soda, Balmain, Aldo, Toms, Birkenstock, Charles & Keith, Nine West, Desigual, Al Jaber Optical, IDdesign, Marlin Furniture, Porsche Design and Disney Fashion.
More than 1,000 retail outlets across Dubai will offer discounts on a range of electronics, jewellery, toys, homewear, furniture, apparel and fashion.
The pre-Ramandan sale is organised by the Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE), an agency of the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism).

Sheikh Mohammed launches Dubai’s new $1.7bn mega-project

Dubai Ruler Sheikh Mohammed has announced the launch of Marsa Al Arab, Dubai Holding’s latest tourist destination development in the emirate.
The $1.7 billion (AED 6.3bn) mega-project, spread across 4 million sq. ft, will be developed on new two islands on both sides of Burj Al Arab Jumeirah. Marsa (Arabic for marina) Al Arab is expected to be completed by 2020.
One island will be dedicated to entertainment and family tourism, while the other comprises an exclusive luxury resort. The two islands will add 2.2 kilometres of beach frontage, as well as three new hotels and a number of new tourist attractions.
The family resort island will see Jumeirah Group introduce new leisure concepts and services as well as a new family-oriented hotel. To boost guest experience, Wild Wadi Waterpark will be moved from its current road-side location closer to the beach, and will be more than double its existing size when fully completed.
Dubai Holding will also develop ‘Marine Park’, a first-of-its-kind marine life edutainment centre in the Middle East, with a live theatre of a 1,000 seat capacity that will attract world-class shows to showcase various elements of marine life.

Marsa Al Arab will also include a private marina and a yacht club, as well as diverse food and beverage offerings, as well as a helipad.
Complementing Madinat Jumeirah, the development will include a mixed-use convention centre capable of hosting large international conferences and festivals. The convention centre will be supported by a new hotel, offering a selection of services for businessmen and corporates.
The project will also include a large retail space stretching across 20,000 sq. m, which will replace the current Wild Wadi Water Park area.

The shopping centre will consist of international high-end brands, as well as a selection of restaurants and coffee shops to meet the needs of its luxurious shoppers. Marsa Al Arab will also offer 300 sea-front residential apartments in the heart of the development.
Together, the enhanced Wild Wadi and Marine Park will sprawl over an area of 2.5 million sq. ft.
The new family destination will house a dedicated theatre with a capacity of 1,700 seats, which will become home to the world-renowned show Cirque du Soleil for the first time in the Middle East.
Dubai Holding will develop 140 luxury villas on the ‘exclusive private island’, which will include a marina for its residents. Located on the left of Burj Al Arab Jumeirah, the luxury villas will be operated by Jumeirah Group. The island will also host a boutique hotel equipped with world-class facilities that reflect ‘Marsa Al Arab’s status as an attractive destination for elite travellers.
Overall, Dubai Holding will add 2,400 hotel rooms to Jumeirah Group’s portfolio, bringing its total offering to 8,428 rooms. There will be 400 new F&B outlets throughout the destination.
The existing hotels in the vicinity will be transformed into a unified tourist destination.
The development will offer pedestrian pathways, a jogging track, large swimming pool and a cycling course, allowing its residents to practice a diverse selection of physical activities.
Location of the two islands – on the left is the luxury island, located behind Jumeirah Al Qasr and Madinat Jumeirah. On the right, the island located behind Jumeirah Beach Hotel and Jumeirah Beach.
Jumeirah Group will offer 10,000 additional parking spaces to accommodate the anticipated influx of visitors, as well as work closely with various government entities and other relevant companies to provide a rapid transport network to interconnect the resorts and entertainment destinations, facilitating fast and easy movement throughout Marsa Al Arab.
The project will break ground in June 2017 and will completed by late 2020.

In addition, Dubai Holding will launch the Dubai Pearl Museum to showcase a historical collection of rare and ancient pearls from the region and worldwide. The Dubai Pearl Museum aims to shed light on the lives of the divers as well as the tools they used to find the precious jewels, reflecting the UAE’s heritage, culture and national pride.
“The launch of this new and ambitious project is in line with the directives of the visionary leadership to provide the finest and rewarding tourist experiences for visitors to Dubai, as well as enhance Dubai’s position as a global tourist destination,” said Abdulla Al Habbai, Chairman, Dubai Holding.
“We are proud of the vital role that Dubai Holding plays in this sector through supporting innovation and contributing to the economic diversification of Dubai.”

(Pics)Apple’s Incredible New Retail Store in Dubai

Boasting unobstructed views of the world’s tallest skyscraper, the Burj Khalifa, via a 180-foot wide, artistically designed carbon fiber array of motorized windows, Apple’s latest upscale retail store will be opening tomorrow, April 27th, 2017, at the swanky Dubai Mall in the United Arab Emirates.
Designed in collaborating with Foster + Partners — the same design team behind Cupertino’s brand-new Apple Park headquarters — the Dubai Mall Apple Store features an ever-changing array of 37.5-foot tall windows, overlain with super-strong carbon fiber panels that are capable of meticulously shifting orientation based on the fluctuations of external temperature in Dubai.
“To mitigate Dubai’s climate, Foster + Parters designed eighteen 37.5-foot-high motorized ‘Solar Wings’ that respond to the ever-changing environmental conditions,” the company wrote in its official press release about the grand-opening. “When the sun is at its hottest they cool the store, and in the evenings they open to welcome everyone to the public terrace. Inspired by the the traditional Arabic Mashrabiya, each ‘Solar Wing’ is locally fabricated from 340 carbon fiber reinforced polymer rods, and at 180 feet wide, the 18 panels make up one of the world’s largest kinetic art installations.”
These magnificent carbon fiber windows will also provide visitors an unobstructed view of one of Dubai’s greatest attractions: the Sama Dubai — a spectacular water fountain show that takes place every evening, and is conveniently located right below the Apple Store terrace at Dubai Mall.
Appropriately, Apple in its press release has invited visitors of the new location to enjoy the beautiful fountain array, which can be seen taking place in the first of two YouTube videos below. Also be sure to check out the second YouTube video, which gives us a glimpse of the Dubai Mall Apple Store, itself, and the surrounding area.

The company was sure to emphasize in its press release that the grand-opening of the Dubai Mall Apple Store is a way to draw more attention to its recently announced workshop series — dubbed Today at Apple — which will essentially embody a series of free education courses, focusing on a variety of topics including art, design, photography, and software coding, among other concepts.
“At the heart of every Apple Store is the drive to educate and inspire,” the company said, while adding that “Today at Apple will launch at Apple Dubai Mall and in all 495 Apple stores next month with new sessions across photo and video, music, coding, art and design, and more, led by highly-trained team members.”
The Dubai Mall Apple Store will also host a variety of high-profile events, many boasting live music, conversations with film-makers and photographers, and additional live workshops hosted by some of the world’s leading talent on the subject at hand.

Power cut plunges Dubai Mall into darkness

Dubai Mall, one of the world’s biggest shopping centres, was plunged into darkness on Monday evening after experiencing a power cut for nearly two hours.

According to photos posted on social media, hundreds of shoppers were forced to wander the mall in the dark. Lights went out and escalators stopped working at about 7.15pm local time.
At just before 9.15pm, Dubai Media, which initially announced the power outage, said the power had been restored.
The Dubai Mall issued a statement saying it regretted the inconvenience caused to shoppers and thanking them for their patience.
Dubai Electricity and Water Authority said the outage was caused by a problem with a cable at Dubai Mall Metro Station.
One Twitter user said earlier that shoppers were using the flashlight on their phones to navigate around the mall.
Another said: “Power still out, almost an hour now. No announcements from security or management. Very poor.”

Nautica relaunches in Dubai Mall as it looks ahead to Saudi Arabia

The American fashion brand Nautica relaunched its Dubai Mall store on Tuesday with new partner Apparel Group.
In an interview with Gulf News, Patricia Canavan, Vice President and General Manager — Nautica Licensing, said that there would be two further store openings this year in the GCC.

She added that the brand was targeting the Avenues mall in Kuwait and was looking to launch in Jeddah also.

Nautica, established in New York City in 1983, currently has 12 stores in the Gulf region, and is aiming to add 18 stores in the next five years, according to Canavan.

“From a population perspective Saudi Arabia represents the greatest opportunity for expansion. We are looking at opening in the tier two cities, as well,” she said.

The company also believes that Saudi Arabia also holds the biggest potential for the growth of their online business.

Apparel Group, a Dubai-based retail conglomerate, is the local partner for brands such as Calvin Klein, Cath Kidston and Tommy Hilfiger. It operates over 1,700 stores across the region.

Together, the senior Nautica official said, they have overhauled the flagship store in Dubai Mall.

“We are reintroducing the brand in various ways. It is a new retail concept for us in Dubai,” Canavan said.

The relaunch at Dubai Mall was spurred by the change in partnership, she said, adding that “there was a need to get out of certain locations that may not have been brand appropriate. Certain commercial centres become obsolete over time.”

Canavan said that Nautica was developing its relationship with the Apparel Group, who has the expertise and can give us feedback on the new product as we go and ensures that we do not alienate existing customers.

Dubai will remain the lifestyle brand’s hub, she said, despite Saudi Arabia potentially making up 50 per cent of the company’s business in the future.

This market “has done a better job than most at diversifying away from pure retail experiences,” Canavan said in the interview, noting that the future of malls was about engaging with customers, not simply trying to sell to them.

“Having ski slopes, having fountains, having parks — that’s the future of retail,” she said.

Apple’s third retail store in the country will open in The Dubai Mall on April 27.

The two-level store, located on both the ground floor near Pucci and Jimmy Choo, and the first floor near Paule Ka, will be officially opened at 4pm.
With a tagline “Creativity. Connected.”, Apple is targeting the country’s creative community that includes start-ups, independent art galleries, local app developers, boutiques, cafes and food trucks, according to the company.

This will be the third Apple store to open in the country with others at Mall of the Emirates and Yas Mall in Abu Dhabi.

Landmark Group founders inducted into retail hall of fame

Landmark Group founders inducted into retail hall of fame
The founders of Landmark Group, a Dubai-based multinational conglomerate, have been inducted into the Retail Hall of Fame during the recent 2017 World Retail Congress at Madinat Jumeirah Hotel in Dubai.
Chairman Micky Jagtiani and vice chairperson Renuka Jagtiani were given the award during a private ceremony the the global event.
Micky Jagtiani founded the Landmark Group in 1973 with a single store in Bahrain and has successfully grown it into one of the largest retail and hospitality conglomerates in the region. A constant innovator, he has created and conceptualised over 27 diverse brands, several of which are market leaders today.
The group has over 2,400 outlets across 30 million square feet, catering to a loyal customer base of over 30 million people across the Middle East, North Africa and the Indian subcontinent.
Landmark Group vice chairperson Renuka Jagtiani
Renuka Jagtiani has been closely involved with the group’s business endeavours for over two decades and was instrumental in creating the high-street fashion brand Splash in 1993. During this time, she has guided the
group’s corporate strategy, built its fashion and hospitality business from the ground up, led its expansion into new countries and launched its e-commerce platform.
Over the past four decades, the Landmark Group has established itself as a diversified international retail and hospitality conglomerate.
“Retail for me has always been more than a business, it is a way to life and it is about people who have helped me get here,” said Micky Jagtiani.
“The GCC has been my home for over 55 years; during this time I have seen it become a global powerhouse, thanks to the vision and passion of the region’s leadership.”
Renuka Jagtiani added: “As Landmark, our focus is value, we value those whose lives we touch. The customer is at the heart of our business, and we change and evolve with them.”

Kuwait’s Kamco buys Amazon’s UK warehouse

Kuwait-based Kamco Investment Company on Sunday said it has purchased Amazon UK’s largest distribution warehouse for $77 million (AED281m).

The warehouse in Dunfermline, Scotland, has been leased to Amazon UK Services until October 2031. Amazon employs 2,100 staff at the warehouse, which handles 38 percent of the 143 million packages that e-retailer handles per annum.
Kamco said it aims to achieve a targeted cash yield of 6.50 percent per annum and an expected internal rate of return (IRR) of 7 percent per annum during the investment period.
Faisal Sarkhou, chief executive officer, Kamco, said: “This achievement marks yet another step towards reaching our strategic objectives and future vision to enhance our operational performance and expand our real estate investments platform on a regional and international scale, in a way that is beneficial to our shareholders.”
Company chief investment officer Khaled Fouad said the transaction highlights the acquisition of a new category of income-generating assets that are leased to Amazon, in aim of diversifying sources of income.
Kamco’s alternative investment team currently manages more than $250 million in real estate across 11 regional and international properties.

World Retail Congress opens in Dubai

The World Retail Congress (WRC) begins on Tuesday in Dubai amid weak consumer demand, caused by a strong dollar and job concerns. Brick-and-mortar retail has also suffered as ecommerce begins to grow in popularity across the region.
The 11th edition of the event, being held at the Madinat Jumeirah from April 4 to April 8 under the patronage of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, will see over 1,500 delegates in attendance.

With opening remarks from Sultan Al Mansouri, the UAE’s Minister of Economy, and Majid Saif Al Ghurair, chairman of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry, attendees are expected to be addressed over the course of the four day event by industry leaders such as Jo Malone, founder of Jo Malone, Ravi Thakran, group president of LVMH for South & South East Asia and Middle East, and Robert Welanetz, CEO of Majid Al Futtaim Properties.

Developers in the UAE are currently hoping to capitalise on the growing number of visitors to the country in the run up to Expo 2020.
Dubai hopes to attract 20 million tourists that year, an increase of around five million in the next three years.

Retailers are currently focusing on delivering unique experiences to differentiate their product, whilst utilising insight into consumer behaviours and attitudes to stay agile and retain customers.

A government emphasis on the tourism sector, competitive deals, and tax-free salaries spurred a decade-long boom in the retail sector in Dubai.

However, in an Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB) economic report released at the end of 2016, Monica Malek, Chief Economist at ADCB, said, “The rise in inflation over our forecast horizon should continue to contribute to the soft consumer-spending backdrop. Wider consumer sentiment is expected to remain weak due to job uncertainties.”

Hamad Bu Amim, president and CEO, Dubai Chamber, said in a statement: “After the tremendous success of the 10th World Retail Congress in Dubai, the chamber is very pleased to host the 11th edition here again. This year’s theme is very topical and reflects the changes in the retail sector, especially the growing trend of ecommerce. More so, Dubai’s retail market is forecasted to surpass $52 billion in sales by 2020 with average annual growth of more than 8 per cent.”

Amazon clinches deal to buy Middle East online retailer Souq.com

Amazon.com has agreed to buy Middle East online retailer Souq.com, thwarting a last-minute bid by Dubai billionaire Mohamed Alabbar’s Emaar Malls, first revealed by Arabian Business on Friday.
The value and terms of the agreement, which deal adviser Goldman Sachs called “the biggest-ever technology M&A transaction in the Arab world”, were not disclosed.
But sources with knowledge of the matter said Amazon was paying less than Emaar’s $800 million offer, making it lower than the $1 billion valuation at the time of a Souq.com funding round last year.
One of the sources said on Monday Souq.com would have had to break an exclusivity agreement with Amazon if it had accepted the Emaar Malls offer at this stage.
Reuters reported last week that Amazon had agreed in principle to buy Souq.com, which was co-founded 12 years ago by Syrian-born entrepreneur Ronaldo Mouchawar.
“By becoming part of the Amazon family, we’ll be able to vastly expand our delivery capabilities and customer selection much faster, as well as continue Amazon’s great track record of empowering sellers,” Mouchawar said in a statement on Tuesday.
In a deal document seen by Reuters, Goldman said the acquisition would accelerate Amazon’s entry into “attractive Middle East countries with significant growth potential given e-commerce only represents (roughly) 2 percent of retail sales”.
The deal was endorsed by the Dubai government, which is increasingly focusing on technology, as the emirate expands its retail footprint in the region.
Dubai’s Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum said it showed the city state’s position “as a regional and global hub for the world’s biggest and leading organisations”.
The acquisition is expected to close later this year, according to the joint statement on Tuesday.
For Alabbar, who made his name as chairman of Emaar Properties, the Dubai government-linked developer of the world’s tallest building, losing out on Souq.com is unlikely to crimp his ambitions to move into e-commerce.
He announced last year he planned to launch his own e-commerce firm Noon in partnership with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, a soverign wealth fund.
Emaar Malls, the retail unit of Emaar Properties, is the operator of the Dubai Mall, which accounts for around 50 percent of the emirate’s luxury goods spending and is one of the Middle East’s largest shopping centres. South Africa’s Naspers Ltd, which has a 36.4 percent stake in Souq.com, has declined to comment on the Amazon deal. Tiger Global Management also has a stake in Souq.com.
The value of the deal was not disclosed, but was in the region of $580 million, according to sources.

Confirmed: Emaar Malls submits $800m bid for Souq.com

Emaar said the acquisition would be in line with the strategy to align e-commerce with physical shopping
Emaar said the acquisition would be in line with the strategy to align e-commerce with physical shopping
Emaar Malls has submitted an $800 million bid to take over e-commerce giant Souq.com, the company has confirmed.
In a bourse statement, Emaar Malls confirmed that it lodged the offer with Souq.com’s shareholders “in line with the strategy to align e-commerce with physical shopping”.
The statement, signed by Ahmad Thani Al Matrooshi, said the bid has not been accepted as yet.
“If the bid is approved, the impact on Emaar Mall’s profit for the quarter in which the acquisition is completed and for the year 2017, will not be material,” the statement added.
Quoting sources familiar to the bid, Arabian Business reported at the weekend that Emaar Malls, a unit of Emaar Properties, had lodged the bid to take over Souq.com, which is thought to have included a $500 million convertible deposit.
Last week Amazon agreed in principle to a 100 percent takeover of Souq.com, in a deal believed be worth around $580m.
However, it is understood that Souq has an “exclusivity” clause as part of its negotiations with Amazon – meaning it would not be able to accept a counter offer while still in sale talks.
Sources suggest the Amazon deal is being driven by New York based Tiger Global Management which has a substantial stake in Souq.
However, other small shareholders in Souq are yet to commit to a sale that could see Souq undervalued by almost $220 million, in comparison to the offer from Emaar Malls.
Souq’s smaller shareholder include South Africa’s Naspers Ltd, Standard Chartered Private Equity, IFC (a member of the World Bank Group) and Baillie Gifford.
Souq.com raised $75 million from Cape Town-based Naspers in March 2014, in a deal it said at the time was the largest for an Internet-based business in the region. But it is not clear whether Naspers is now backing the Amazon deal.

UAE’s Al-Futtaim plans new Ikea stores in Middle East

UAE-based Al-Futtaim is seeking to open new stores in Egypt while stepping into Oman, according to a senior company executive.

“We are currently working on expansion in Muscat, Oman, and are still studying the possibility of opening more stores in Egypt and some other countries,” John Kersten, managing director, Ikea, told Arabian Business.
At present, Al-Futtaim holds franchise rights for the UAE, Qatar, Egypt and Oman. In the UAE, it will open its fourth store by early 2019, while its first store in Egypt’s Cairo Festival City was opened in 2013.
According to Kersten, Ikea has reduced prices on 2,500 items this year in the UAE – a practice that it follows year-on-year.
“If you take the catalogue from the UK or the US and the UAE, you will have some pleasant surprises there. We do lower our prices every year,” he said.
The company executive revealed despite 2016 being a tough year, sales have not dropped in the UAE.
“Normally, if times are getting worse, it is getting better with Ikea. We had a quite a magnificent year,” he said, without providing details.

UAE’s Paris Gallery plans to open 30 new stores

Mohammed Abdul Rahim Al Fahim, CEO of Paris Gallery Group of Companies.
UAE-based retailer Paris Gallery has announced plans to open 30 new stores across the Middle East over the next five years.
The company said in a statement that its expansion would focus mainly on the Gulf region and would see its workforce grow to about 5,100 employees, up from 3,500.
The total projected retail area in operation will reach 3.2 million square feet by 2021, it added.
The expansion plan will take the total number of Paris Gallery stores to 116 stores by 2021. To date, its stores number 86 branches across the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Iraq, Azerbaijan and other countries.
Paris Gallery Group focuses on the luxury products sector and has a wide range of products including perfumes, cosmetics, watches, eyewear, accessories, leather goods and fashion, from more than 800 global brands.
Mohammed Abdul Rahim Al Fahim, CEO of Paris Gallery Group of Companies, said: “The group has recorded steady growth in the retail and distribution business since 2006… We are keen to study and analyze the market to identify trends and opportunities in the retail sector.”

Maf opens Mall of Egypt in Cairo, complete with indoor ski slope

Majid Al Futtaim (Maf), the conglomerate behind Mall of the Emirates, has opened its Dh2.6 billion Mall of Egypt in Cairo featuring Africa’s first indoor ski slope.
The mall, which is part of a Dh5.1bn investment in the North African country, has 165,000 square metres of gross leasable area, with 350 local and international retailers, 21 Vox cinemas and a family entertainment centre, the company said yesterday.
Maf first entered Egypt 15 years ago with Carrefour supermarkets in Cairo and Alexandria.
“Egypt is an important market for Majid Al Futtaim and launching mega projects like Mall of Egypt reaffirms our strong belief in the vast opportunities available in the Egyptian market,” said Ghaith Shocair, the chief executive of shopping malls at Majid Al Futtaim Properties, a unit of Maf.
Maf, which has 21 shopping malls, said in 2015 it planned to double in size within five years as it increases investments across Arabian Gulf countries and Egypt.
The group is forging ahead with expansion plans after registering an 8 per cent increase in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation to Dh4.1bn last year thanks to broad-based growth.
The company will carry forward plans to expand in markets such as the UAE, Egypt, Oman and Saudi Arabia and will also bolster its operations in Africa and Central Asia.
Maf, whose revenue rose by 9 per cent to Dh29.9bn last year, attributed this growth to new hypermarkets, supermarkets and family entertainment centres across the company’s geographic reach.
In June, the group announced a 10-year plan to invest Dh30bn in the UAE, its biggest market.
It plans to open 10 City Centre malls, six hotels, 28 cinemas, 40 Carrefour supermarkets and a 740,000 sq metre master-planned community over the next 10 years, which will generate about 170,000 jobs directly and indirectly.
Maf is also launching an indoor ski slope in Saudi Arabia as part of a 14bn Saudi riyal (Dh13.71bn) investment in the kingdom.
In Oman, Maf announced in May a further investment of Dh5bn over the next four years.
Maf, which has exclusive rights to the Carrefour supermarket franchise in 38 markets across the Middle East, Africa and Central Asia, last year opened 10 supermarkets and 10 hypermarkets, including one in Nairobi, Kenya – the company’s first hypermarket in Africa.
Last week it opened its second Carrefour hypermarket in Nairobi, at the Two Rivers Mall.
Besides its 21 malls, Maf owns and operates 12 hotels and three mixed-use communities, with further developments under construction.
The conglomerate welcomed 172 million customers last year to it shopping malls, a rise of 2 per cent on 2015, while occupancy at its retail centres was at 98 per cent. Revenue per available room at its hotels fell by 8 per cent last year compared with 2015.

UAE’s Al Futtaim launches new 100-store mall with IKEA, ACE in Dubai

The mall, located in Jebel Ali area, is set to be completed by Q1, 2019
UAE developer Al-Futtaim Group has launched a massive new retail project within a 15 million sqft mixed use project in Dubai’s Jebel Ali area – close to Ibn Battuta Mall.
The mall is being built as part of the first phase of the Wasl Gate mixed use development, which is being developed by Dubai’s Wasl Properties.
Spread across 78,500 sq metres, the new mall will include around 55,000 sqm of leasable space and feature 100 stores, along with flagship IKEA and ACE outlets.

It will also include a food court and cafe-style dining, entertainment, a hypermarket and over 2,000 parking spots – all set to be completed by Q1, 2019.
The IKEA store – the second in Dubai – will be spread across 30,000 sqm with restaurant concepts, coffee shops and a new in-store bakery. It will be fully integrated into the mall.
The store, which will also have an international training centre, will become the brand’s newest concept store globally. A mobile application will allow customers to make purchases by scanning the products at the store and having them delivered at home.

Spread over 4,000 sqm, the new ACE outlet will also be a “concept store not seen before in Dubai”, offering more than 33,000 products from ACE, worx power tools, Addis home products and Broil King barbeque brands. It will also feature an in-store cafe and garden centre with plants and accessories.
The store will be ACE’s third in Dubai, following the launch of the first store in 1991.
The retailers for almost all the 100 stores in the mall have been confirmed and will be announced by the end of the second quarter, confirmed Steven Cleaver, director – Shopping Centres UAE at Al Futtaim.
He also said there would be entertainment options, although details are yet to be finalised.
“We are done with the design and the construction contract is about to be awarded,” he told reporters at the groundbreaking event.
The name of the property will be unveiled in Q3 2017. The financial details about the project including the development value were not disclosed.
The mall aims to cater to the growing population in Jebel Ali and residents from Marina, the TECOM free zones and also those travelling from Abu Dhabi.
It will also cater to the large number of residents who are eventually expected to live within the Wasl Gate community.
Despite strong competition in Dubai’s retail landscape – the massive Ibn Battuta Mall is located in close proximity – Cleaver said he is confident about gaining footfall.
“I think the demand we have seen for IKEA in Dubai is huge – it is very busy all the time. We felt the time is right to put another one here and that’s a huge point of difference. ACE will be different as well. As a developer, we are confident that the point of difference we have will capture trade on the south side of Dubai and Abu Dhabi,” said Cleaver.
He also conceded that the retail market was hit by the tough economic conditions, but said the developer was focussing on meeting future demand.
“Retail has been tough for a couple of years and I think it is going to continue through this year. But like everybody else, we look forward. We continue to look for opportunity and investment. And it’s important that we continue working with our retailers both within Al Futtaim retail and the other groups to make sure we understand how people are performing.”
So far, the mall operator has not been forced to reduce rents.
“It’s not a case of being forced to reduce rents, it’s just working closely with retailers to understand how to make sure everyone is surviving,” he added.
Officials also confirmed that the second phase of the Wasl Gate project will include the 1,457 residential units along with a hospitality and entertainment offering, a sports complex, K-12 schools with international curriculums, and a central park connecting the community’s commercial and residential neighbourhoods.

New FENDI Kids store opens at Dubai Mall

Founded by Adele and Edoardo Fendi in 1925, the eponymous Rome-based fashion House has gained a new space in Dubai. A playful, bright and stylish new Fendi Kids flagship store has launched on the second floor of The Dubai Mall next to Dolce & Gabbana Kids shop. The new venue has opened its doors to the public in February 2017.

Saudi’s Alhokair plans to build Egypt shopping mall

Saudi-nased Alhokair franchises brands such as Zara and Marks and Spencer in the kingdom.

Saudi-nased Alhokair franchises brands such as Zara and Marks and Spencer in the kingdom.
The board of Egypt’s Medinet Nasr for Housing and Development (MNHD) has approved an offer from a unit of Saudi Arabian retailer Fawaz Abdulaziz Alhokair to build a mall at MNHD’s Teegan development, the firm said on Tuesday.
Under the proposed deal, Alhokair, which franchises brands such as Zara and Marks and Spencer in the kingdom, will own and operate the mall for 50 years before transferring it to MNHD, who in the meantime will receive a share of the mall’s revenues.
MNHD said the new mall would have a gross leasable area of 68,500 square metres and would take three years to construct.
“Such deals should help MNHD to significantly improve on its financial performance and balance sheet, enabling it to unlock significant value from its unutilised land bank,” Cairo’s Naeem Brokerage said in a note.
The Teegan development is located in the east of the Egyptian capital, across from Cairo International Airport, and will ultimately cover 3.5 million square metres.

Emaar Malls reports strong growth in 2016

Emaar Malls reports strong growth in 2016
Emaar Malls reported a growth in fourth-quarter (October to December 2016) net profit by four per cent to AED 452 million ($123 million), compared to the Q4 2015 net profit of AED 435 million ($118 million).
Emaar Malls (DFM: EMAARMALLS), the shopping malls and retail business majority-owned by global property developer Emaar Properties, has recorded a net profit of AED 1.874 billion ($510 million) during 2016, an increase of 13 per cent over the full-year 2015 net profit of AED 1.656 billion ($451 million). FY 2016 revenue recorded a growth of 8 per cent to AED 3.227 billion ($879 million) compared to FY 2015 revenue of AED 2.992 billion ($815 million).
Emaar Malls reported a growth in fourth-quarter (October to December 2016) net profit by four per cent to AED 452 million ($123 million), compared to the Q4 2015 net profit of AED 435 million ($118 million).
Revenue for Q4 2016 increased to AED 835 million ($227 million), which is 8 per cent more than Q3 2016 revenue of AED 774 million ($211 million).
The shopping malls assets of Emaar Malls – The Dubai Mall, Dubai Marina Mall, Souk Al Bahar, Gold & Diamond Park and the community shopping centres – welcomed 125 million visitors during 2016, similar to annual footfall during 2015.
The Dubai Mall set a similar footfall level of 80 million visitors for three consecutive years despite ongoing expansion in and around the mall, reiterating its reputation as the world’s most-visited retail and lifestyle destination. The gross leasable area (GLA) occupancy levels averaged 96 per cent during 2016.
Mohamed Alabbar, Chairman of Emaar Malls and Emaar Properties, said: “As a global business and leisure hub, Dubai is among the top preferred destination for international retailers to expand their operations. Emaar Malls has created a dynamic platform of shopping malls that catalyse the growth of Dubai’s retail sector while offering the nation’s residents and visitors with exciting retail and leisure choices.
“In today’s digital age, we are focused on leveraging advanced technologies to ensure that our visitors have memorable experiences at our malls. We will continue to introduce new innovations, strengthened further with digital strategies to ensure that our malls stay ahead of the curve, and redefine the retail sector.
“The positive growth of the Dubai economy, led by the smart, futuristic vision of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, will continue to power our growth. We are now expanding our footprint with next-generation malls in Dubai Creek Harbour and Dubai Hills Estate that will make the city the first choice for retail.”

Costa Coffee opens first Middle East drive-through Hotelier Middle East

Costa Coffee opens first Middle East drive-through Hotelier Middle East
Costa Coffee opens first Middle East drive-through

Located near Kite Beach on Jumeirah Beach Road in Dubai, the two-storey Costa Coffee building is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Emirates Leisure Retail chief operating officer Kevin Zajax said: “This is a milestone occasion, and the latest offering in our response to what our customers are looking for. They want to be able to get a handcrafted Costa Coffee at any time of the day, sometimes without leaving their car.
“We brought Costa here in 1999 with the first store outside the UK, and now we have the first purpose-built Costa drive-through in the Middle East.”
The staff at the new site have visited London to work in the brand’s UK drive-throughs and “to learn how it is done”, added Zajax
Costa is developing its food offering with a new ‘made fresh on site’ deli range that is rolling out to more of its UAE outlets and adding new brews to the coffee menu, including the Old Paradise Street limited edition.
And to celebrate the launch of the new drive-through, Costa is giving away Jeep Wrangler. Every customer that spends AED30 (US $8) between January 9 and February 9 will be entered into the prize draw.

Mall of Qatar launches ‘softly’, less than 50% of shops open

Mall of Qatar, Doha’s new shopping concept with 500,000 sq m of retail space, officially opened its doors to the public on Saturday, with 220 stores launch on day one of the “soft opening”.

Officials said the mall is 99 percent leased, with 92 percent currently in the fit-out phase.
“We are opening over 220 stores on our first day, which is 60 percent of the gross leasable area,” said Ahmed Al Mulla, CEO.
He added: “After working towards a goal for many years, seeing it come to life is one of the most incredible experiences. Mall of Qatar marks a new era of shopping in Qatar – merging shopping and entertainment at our regional super mall.
“Mall culture plays a large role in Middle Eastern, and especially GCC society. We are pushing the boundaries and elevating the mall experience with our brand new, and innovative offering.”
When fully operational, the sprawling complex will boast over 500 shops including 100 F&B outlets.
As well as shops, the mall will premiere the world’s first resident troupe – offering mall-wide entertainment with 52 weeks of shows on a 360-degree custom developed revolving stage, as well as a multilevel family entertainment complex.
The mall will also feature a 19-screen Cineplex inclusive of IMAX’s revolutionary laser projection and 12 channel immersive sound system on the region’s largest screen. The cinema will also feature the latest 4D projection technology screen, 7 VIP screens, an 8-lane bowling alley, and in-theatre gourmet food services.

Abu Dhabi’s Marina Mall embarks on $810m extension project

Marina Mall Abu Dhabi, owned by the National Investment Company (NIC), has announced that it will be breaking ground in early 2017 on major mall improvements worth AED300 million, in addition to a new AED3 billion extension.
Marina Mall Abu Dhabi will be undergoing a renovation and growing in size with a 120,000 sq m extension designed by DP Architects, the company behind the design of Dubai Mall.

The new extension plan will be divided into two parts, the north and south side of the mall, which will include the latest retail and F&B brands and new market entry brands exclusive to the mall.
Marina Mall Abu Dhabi will also expand its car parking facilities, a statement said.  
Jihad Dirani, head of leasing at Marina Mall Abu Dhabi, said: “We are entering an exciting phase of Marina Mall’s development, as we continue our journey to deliver an excellent visitor experience. We are currently in the process of selecting the right suppliers and contractors; whilst looking to evolve our leasing portfolio.” 
In 2006, the mall went through major expansion plans, which included the addition of a revolving restaurant tower, as well as an increase in mall facilities and retail outlets.
Marina Mall is also home to Marina Eye – Abu Dhabi’s first and only observatory wheel.

Amazon said to consider acquiring Dubai-based online retailer for $1bn#Economy

Souq.com is known as ‘Amazon of the Middle East’
Amazon does not have big foothold in Middle East (Reuters)

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Amazon.com is in preliminary talks to acquire the Dubai-based online retail market Souq.com for about $1bn, according to a Bloomberg News report.
Souq.com, known as the “Amazon of the Middle East,” currently offers roughly 1.5 million products across the Middle East, primarily in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Amazon does not have much of a foothold in the region.
In September, Souq.com hired banker Goldman Sachs to find potential buyers for at least 30 percent of the company, according to the Bloomberg report. Tiger Global Management and South Africa Naspers – the company’s primary investors – also may consider selling their shares, it added.
Big e-commerce ventures appear to be trending in the Middle East. Two weeks ago, Dubai business magnate Mohamed Alabbar announced the launch of a $1bn regional e-commerce site in a joint venture with the Saudi sovereign wealth fund and other Gulf investors.
Noon.com is to go online in January with a 50 percent investment from the kingdom’s Public Investment Fund and the rest from about 60 investors led by Alabbar, who also heads the emirate’s real estate giant Emaar.
He told a news conference that distribution centres are being set up in the Saudi cities of Riyadh and Jeddah, along with a giant warehouse the size of 60 football stadiums in Dubai.
“We expect to become a world player but will concentrate firstly on Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates,” said the president of Emaar, the company that built the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.
With an initial inventory of 20 million products, the online retailer aims to expand to Egypt, the Arab world’s most-populous state, at the end of next year or early in 2018.
Alabbar, cited by Bloomberg, said Noon would be traded on stock markets in five to seven years, and aims to be profitable within five years.

Alabbar, Saudi sovereign wealth fund to launch $1bn e-commerce platform

Mohamed Alabbar and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) are teaming up to launch a Middle Eastern e-commerce platform, the Dubai-based billionaire announced on Sunday.
At the media launch at Dubai Opera, Alabbar described the new e-commerce venture – Noon.com – as “game changing”.
“We’re turning the e-commerce environment in Middle East upside down,” he said, “and then we’re going to turn it upside down again in another six months.”
Alabbar revealed that Noon.com will have 20 million products on the platform on day one when it launches next January. The average shopping mall in Dubai has 1.5 million goods, he said.
The warehouse facility in Dubai is the size of 60 football pitches, he added.
Investors are initially contributing $1 billion to the project, which will be 50 percent owned by the Saudi sovereign wealth fund, Alabbar said. The other 50 percent will be owned by Alabbar and other regional investors.
Noon.com will launch operations in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, with launches planned for other Arab countries at a later date.

Business as normal for Marks & Spencer in Gulf, despite cuts elsewhere

Marks & Spencer (M&S)’s department stores in the Gulf will be unaffected by the British retail giant’s decision to close down more than 80 shops in the UK and around the world.
The company announced on Tuesday that it would shut 30 outlets in the UK, and 53 overseas, including most of its fully owned stores. Altogether, it will shutter operations in 10 international markets, including France and China, at a cost of up to 200 million pounds over the next year.
In the Gulf, M&S outlets are operated by Dubai’s Al Futtaim, and the retailer said that that relationship would continue. 
“We are fully committed to our franchise partnership with Al Futtaim and our franchise stores in the Gulf operated by Al-Futtaim are unaffected by today’s proposals,” an M&S UK spokesperson told Arabian Business in response to emailed questions. “Going forward we propose to operate with fewer wholly-owned markets and have a greater focus on our established joint ventures and franchise partnerships.
“Customers can continue to shop with us at our stores in the region.”
Al Futtaim has held the regional franchise rights for M&S since 1998, and the franchise partnership boasts 26 stores located in Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar and the UAE, according to the company’s website.
M&S, whose shares have fallen 22 percent so far this year, reported an 18.6 percent slump in first-half profit and another fall in quarterly clothing sales.
Steve Rowe, a 26-year company veteran, took over as CEO in April and has the tough task of reviving a 132-year-old British institution that has fallen out of fashion over the last decade.
“These are tough decisions, but vital to building a future M&S that is simpler, more relevant, multi-channel and focused on delivering sustainable returns,” he said.
So far, Rowe’s priority has been trying to turn around M&S’s underperforming clothing and homewares business.
But on Tuesday he outlined how the firm will streamline its British store estate of over 900 stores over five years and detailed a rationalisation of its international operations.

Carrefour set to open 10 new stores in the UAE by 2017

Hypermarket chain Carrefour plans to open ten new stores in the UAE in 2017, according to a statement on Sunday from Majid Al Futtaim, which holds the Carrefour franchise in the Middle East, Africa and Central Asia. Carrefour has set a target to reach 140 hypermarkets and 210 supermarkets in the countries in which Majid Al Futtaim operates by 2018.

Saudisation forces closure of 800 mobile phone shops

A reported 800 telecoms shops in Saudi Arabia have closed since new rules came into force requiring 100 percent of staff to be Saudi nationals.
Under a ramped-up Saudisation policy from the government, all stores selling mobile communications devices had to ensure that at least 50 percent of employees were Saudi citizens from June 6; the requirement rose to 100 percent on September 3.
Saudi authorities have been conducting raids on shops to ensure the new rules are being implemented – and have recorded multiple violations, Saudi Gazette reported.
The newspaper said that 800 establishments have been forced to shut as they were unable to meet the new requirements, while others were flouting the rules.
Following the latest inspection, in the Eastern Province, the Labour and Social Development Office recorded 41 violations out of 71 visits.
An official source was quoted as saying: “A total of 1,982 establishments have adhered to the Saudisation decision.
“The office visited 4,953 establishments in all. Only 2,023 of the visited establishments were running and 1,739 Saudis were employed in them.”
Mohammad Al Laghbi, the committee head of Jazan municipality labour office, said the telecoms Saudisation plan had succeeded in increasing jobs for Saudi citizens, however, more training is needed in mobile phone repair to offer those services to customers.
“There aren’t enough Saudis who are well-trained to offer mobile repair,” he said. “This has led to several telecommunication shops reaching agreements with expatriate technicians who will work from home.”

SPAR International expands into Albania

SPAR has opened its first food stores in Albania through a partnership with Balfin Group.
The two hypermarkets in Tirana East Gate and in the QTU shopping centre span 7,200 and 3,800 square metres respectively.
Balfin Group is the largest private company operating in Albania. The company entered into food retail in 2005 with the development of the Euromax chain of stores and has been operating 15 large food retail stores under the Carrefour brand.
As part of Balfin Group, SPAR Albania will convert the current 15 stores. By the end of 2017, Balfin Group plans to open over 100 supermarkets and 10 hypermarkets as part of a €50 million investment in the country.
The entry into Albania means that SPAR currently operates in 44 countries. SPAR International reported global retail sales in 2015 of €33 billion from over 12,100 stores across four continents.
SPAR International managing director, Tobias Wasmuht said: “We are delighted to be partnering with Balfin, a leading privately owned Albanian business Group, to develop SPAR Supermarkets and INTERSPAR Hypermarkets in Albania. Working in true co-operation with the Balfin Group, we are able to unite the best of international with the best of local, creating an excellent proposition of value, service, quality and choice for our customers in Albania.”
The launch of the two hypermarkets has been complemented with a television campaign and city wide outdoor advertising.

Saudi retailer Jarir reports flat Q3 net profit

Jarir Marketing, one of Saudi Arabia’s largest retailers by market value, posted flat third-quarter net profit on Thursday, and noted a drop in its non-operating expenses.
It made a net profit of 220 million riyals ($58.7 million) in the three months to Sept. 30, from 218.5 million riyals in the same period a year earlier, it said in a bourse statement.
Jarir warned on March 8 that its sales would plunge by as much as 30 percent in the first quarter of this year, the result of a decline in consumer spending as low oil prices weakened the kingdom’s economy.

McDonald’s to sell Singapore, Malaysian franchise to Saudi group

McDonald’s is set to agree a deal to sell 20-year franchise rights for its Singapore and Malaysia outlets to Saudi Arabia’s Reza group for up to $400 million, as part of a re-jig of its Asian business, people familiar with the matter said.
Reza Food Services Co. Ltd, which owns and operates McDonald’s restaurants in the western and southern region of Saudi Arabia, has tapped Malaysian bank CIMB (CIMB.KL) to finance the transaction, said two of the sources, who declined to be identified as the deal has not been publicly announced.
The move is in line with McDonald’s plans to bring in partners as it switches to a less capital-intensive franchise model in Asia.
One person familiar with the Southeast Asian deal said McDonald’s was keen to tie up with regional family-owned groups and local tycoons as it sought out long-term partners rather than buyout firms, which usually cash out of a business after a few years.
Basic terms of the agreement had been finalised and the deal was expected to be completed by the year-end, the person said.
CIMB declined to comment, while there was no immediate response from McDonald’s. Reuters was not immediately able to reach Reza for a comment.
Sources said CIMB would provide the bulk of the term loan to back the deal, and the financing would be denominated in both Malaysian ringgit and Singapore dollars.
In July, McDonald’s had said it was seeking franchise partners for its restaurants in Singapore and Malaysia and was negotiating with parties, but did not provide any details or a timeline.
McDonald’s has about 120 restaurants in Singapore and about 260 in Malaysia.
Citing sources, Reuters reported last month that McDonald’s had received final bids from at least three groups for its China and Hong Kong outlets.

Liverpool FC set to open first MidEast shop in Abu Dhabi

Premier League football giant Liverpool is set to open an official shop in Abu Dhabi store, with a free in-store event to be hosted by club ambassador and former striker Robbie Fowler.
The event will take place on Thursday September 29 and fans will be able to take part in a Q&A, meet and greet and signing session with Robbie, Liverpool said in a statement.
The LFC Abu Dhabi store is opening in conjunction with partner Pioneer Group and offers fans across the region access to the full range of New Balance replica kit as well as authentic Reds merchandise, apparel and fashion accessories, the statement added.
The Abu Dhabi store is the ninth official global LFC retail standalone store, and the first to be opened in the Middle East.
The club is currently looking to expand its retail operations across the Middle East with a focus to expand into Dubai.
Mike Cox, LFC director of merchandising, said: “We’re really excited to be opening the first of our planned Middle East stores in Abu Dhabi, where Liverpool FC has such a strong and passionate following. We are delighted to be able to work with Pioneer Group to offer our fans in the region access to authentic LFC merchandise across a range of product categories.”
Samir Syed, retail manager at Pioneer Group, added: “The launch of Liverpool FC’s Abu Dhabi store is a milestone event for football lovers in the UAE, and Pioneer Group is privileged to work with an iconic club to bring high-quality merchandise and further build on its popularity among the soccer fans in the country and region.”

Meydan Mall One to have world’s biggest dancing fountain

Meydan Group has revealed more details about its plans to build the Meydan One Mall in Dubai, which will feature the largest dancing water fountain in the world, measuring 400m in width and 100m in height.

The centre point of the much anticipated Meydan One mega development, launched in August 2015 by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the Meydan One Mall will cover more than 30,000 sq m of indoor and outdoor space, with 529 shops including two major department stores and an 11,200 sq m hypermarket.
Unveiling the new Meydan One Mall branding, logo and visual identity at Cityscape Global this week, the Meydan Group showed a sample model of the mall’s retractable roof, which will be opened in the cooler, winter months to create an alfresco shopping and dining atmosphere.
A 25,000 sq m indoor multi-purpose sports facility will be located within the Meydan One Mall, providing regulation size sports fields and courts to cater to football, basketball, volleyball, squash, racquetball, paddle ball, table tennis, badminton, indoor cricket, mixed martial arts, boxing, jogging, softball, baseball batting cage and a golf driving range, while skiing and snowboarding will be facilitated on the world’s longest ski slope, measured at 1km.
Outdoor sports options will include football pitches, mountain biking, walking and running trails, a skateboard park and a BMX park.
The mall will also feature more than 90 food and beverage outlets, a 20-screen cinema with a food court hosting an additional 20 outlets, as well as a 400m Central Canyon flanked by a collection of flagship luxury stores. It will be serviced by car parking facilities with more than 12,000 spaces.
Meydan chairman Saeed Humaid Al Tayer said: “Dubai is a city well known for creating and breaking world records, in setting new benchmarks in quality and once in a lifetime experiences. In our vision for Meydan One we have worked hard to create all the wonders of a retail and leisure experience into one space, making this the number one destination for the UAE and indeed, the Middle East.”
Meydan’s vision began with the completion of the Grandstand in 2010 and was underlined by the Group’s role in the development of Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum City, specifically District One, a collection of premium villas within the heart of new Dubai.
The company said the construction of Meydan One will complete its commitment to helping “create the future of Dubai”.

Landmark Group partners to open numerous stores in Reem Mall

A new agreement between Landmark Group and the Reem Mall will bring concepts from the region’s leading retail and hospitality conglomerate to the shopping center. 
Reem Mall is recognized as one of the supreme destinations on Reem Island for shopping and socializing.
“Reem Mall is set to transform the retail landscape in Abu Dhabi, and this significant new agreement with Landmark Group brings some of the world’s most popular brands to one convenient location,” Shane Eldstrom, chief operating officer for Reem Mall, said.
The mall, which is two million square feet, will open 23 new stores in the UAE capital in 2018. Within the newly signed agreement, Landmark Group will bring Centrepoint, Home Centre, Max, Iconic, Sports One and Shoexpress. The Groups’ highly recognized franchise brands such as New Look, Reiss, Adidas Kids, Ecco, Koton, Yours London, Lipsy, Steve Madden, Carpisa, Nose, Pablosky, Aerosoles, Kurt Geiger, Stride Rite, Puket, Blocco 31, Kazar and Loriblu will add to the retail options within the shopping mall.
With the numerous store offering, Landmark Group will occupy roughly 200,000 square feet of the entire mall.
“Landmark Group shares our passion and commitment to the highest quality standards in retail and customer care, which makes them the perfect partner to help bring Abu Dhabi’s most anticipated mall to life,” Eldstrom said. “We look forward to continuing our successful collaboration into 2017 and beyond.” 
Not only will the center offer 85 food and beverage outlets for the perfect mix of education and entertainment, but Reem Mall will also host numerous entertainment options for guests of all ages, including the world’s largest indoor snow-play park.
“Abu Dhabi’s impressive mall development offers great potential for retail growth. Its vibrant shopping, arts and entertainment culture is a great attraction for both residents and tourists, and as the offering grows, it increases opportunity for the retail industry,” Manu Jeswani, director of Landmark Group, said. “Landmark Group is strategically expanding its presence in Abu Dhabi and our partnership with Reem Mall will enable us to bring our offering even closer to our customers. We look forward to working with the mall team on the launch of this great new project.”
Reem Mall was developed by NREC and UPAC . Construction began in 2015 and the 450 store facility is expected to open in 2018. The retail and leisure center is located in one on the most social and up and coming communities in Abu Dhabi.

BHS stores to close in Dubai and Sharjah after collapse

Five BHS stores in Dubai and Sharjah are set to close after the British retail major collapsed in March.
Al Maya Group, a Dubai company that owns the franchise to BHS in the emirate, said its five BHS stores located in Dubai Mall, Festival City, Al Ghurair Centre, Lamcy Plaza and Sharjah City Centre would close by the end of the year.
“Al Maya owns the franchise to these stores so they do not have to close, but the company has chosen to close them,” the Al Maya buyer Noor Tayyaba told The National.
The BHS group collapsed a year after it was sold by Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia to Retail Acquisitions, a consortium led by the former racing driver and three times bankrupt Dominic Chappell.
But in Abu Dhabi it was business as usual for the 11 BHS stores operated by Liwa Trading Enterprises, a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi’s Al Nasser Holdings.
A Liwa spokesman confirmed that its stores, located in some of Abu Dhabi and Al Ain’s largest shopping malls, would continue to trade despite the closure this week of all 163 BHS stores in the United Kingdom.
“BHS still has a loyal cus­tomer base in the Middle East. Our customers in Abu Dhabi tend to be Arab expatriates who like the styling offered by the brand,” a Liwa spokesman said.
“We have always found it easy to meet the minimum targets for our franchises with the BHS brand and intend to continue with it.”
In June, the Qatari conglomerate Al Mana acquired the company’s international franchising business and all domain names.
Alshaya Group manages 26 franchised BHS stores across the Arabian Gulf – 13 in Saudi Arabia, 12 in Kuwait and one in Oman. The company is also understood to be continuing with the brand.
BHS is not the only international brand to continue trading in the region after facing insolvency elsewhere. The book seller Borders and the ladies fashion chain Jane Norman are among overseas high street names that continue to trade here.
“There are a number of brands which continue to exist in the UAE even though their parent companies have disappeared elsewhere,” said David Mac­adam, the chief executive of the Middle East Council of Shopping Centres.
“The challenge for franchisees in these sorts of occasions is to continue to source stock. However, for a brand like BHS that sort of low to mid-market value retailer is still very popular in the UAE and I think there is still a lot of room for them in the market.”

Costa Coffee UAE digitises its menu boards

Costa Coffee’s franchise partner in the Middle East has invested in digital menu screens as it looks to improve the customer experience in the company’s Dubai stores.
Over 50 Costa Coffee shops in Dubai are in the process of being refreshed with digital signage installations, as the global chain looks to update the experience it offers customers in its stores.
These stores are operated as a franchise by Emirates Leisure Retail, which has led the project after being given approval by the company’s global brand management team in London.
Emirates Leisure Retail selected Mood Media – the company that manages Costa’s in-store music – to provide the menu boards. Digital signage media player company, BrightSign, is hosting the technology, while the equipment itself is supplied by local distributor, Digital Communications.

Digital menu boards are being introduced as each store goes through a refurbishment, and around half of the installations have been completed to date. Mood Media is now in talks to extend the digital boards to other Costa Coffee stores in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) territories.
Shemaine Jones, head of marketing at Emirates Leisure Retail, said: “We are always looking for ways to improve the customer experience.
“We spent six months evaluating digital menu board formats and content offline to create a formula that fully reflects our brand values and the store context. Only then did we move ahead with a pilot.”
The central screen features video content provided by Costa Coffee and/or created by Mood GCC locally in Dubai, while the screens to either side offer up-to-date menus and pricing, as well as moving images.

Axiom launches new concept store in Abu Dhabi

Axiom telecom, the UAE’s largest mobility retailer, has brought its ‘experiential shopping’ to Abu Dhabi with the first-of-its-kind retail concept in the emirate.
The launch of axiom’s innovative shopping concept in Abu Dhabi Mall marks the retailer’s third store renovation in the UAE after Dubai Festival City and The Dubai Mall. It is also the sixth axiom revamp in the region, with three recent store launches in Saudi Arabia.
Shopper expectations in the UAE capital are evolving from being product-based to experience-based, according to axim CEO Fahad Al Bannai.
“Abu Dhabi shoppers largely comprise young Millennials who are looking for a non-traditional retail experience, one characterised by the ability to experience products before making a purchase,” he said.
“In today’s fast-paced lifestyle and competitive market environment, customer convenience and service excellence are key to the success of any business. Through our deep understanding of the local and regional market, we are able to offer a one-stop-shop approach that caters to customers’ diverse requirements,” says Al Bannai. “Shoppers are now able to walk into our store, experience the latest gadgets, personalise their chosen device, activate it, and sign up for reliable aftercare services all under one roof. So customers leave not only with a personalised product they can begin using immediately, but also peace of mind, knowing that they truly got value for their purchase.”
Among the many exciting new services shoppers will discover at axiom is ‘XCustoms’, a first-of-its-kind in-store customisation zone that allows customers to personalise their smartphone.
From gold plating, engraving, and colorful skins, to UV printing, clear protection, and Swarovski crystals, XCustoms allows gadget owners to express their individuality – whether it is supporting a favourite band or team, or showcasing a unique sense of style. Nearly all services are completed in-store, allowing customers to make a statement with their personalised device in as little as 15 minutes, the company said.

Sephora expands in Middle East with new stores across GCC

Cosmetics retailer Sephora has opened four new shops in the Middle East, adding to its 52-store roster in the region.
The Paris-headquartered beauty chain has launched stores in the newly expanded Ibn Battuta Mall, Dubai, Gulf Mall in Qatar and Jouri Mall and the Mall of Dhahran in Saudi Arabia.
The chain claims it has seen ‘significant’ regional growth, particularly in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, and plans to expand further across these markets in the future.
However, the number of Sephora stores currently open in the Middle East remains only half of what the late chief executive Jacques Levy had in mind for the region nearly 10 years ago.
Speaking to Gulf News in 2007, a year before the global financial crisis, the CEO said he hoped to have 100 stores in the Middle East by 2010. Levy stepped down from his role in 2011 and died a year later.
The UAE’s retail sector is predicted to grow at an average rate of about 5 per cent, reaching a value of Dhs 200bn by 2017, despite concerns of a slump related to the fallen oil prices.
According to a forecast from the retail consultancy Euromonitor, retail spending in the Emirates is on track to increase by 7 per cent this year to $53.7bn, while retail space has increased by 7 per cent during 2014 to reach 1.6 million square metres.
However, many retailers have complained about the high rental price of retail space, as costs are pushed up by an increasing presence of global brands in the country’s shopping malls.

Dubai’s Al-Futtaim inks deal to launch French fashion brand

Al-Futtaim, a Dubai-based conglomerate, has signed a partnership agreement with French fashion house ba&sh to introduce the luxury brand to the Middle East.

The first of the planned 10 ba&sh stores will open in Dubai’s City Walk in the fourth quarter of 2016, it said in a statement.
Paul Delaoutre, president Al Futtaim Retail said: “This partnership will add exciting new markets to ba&sh’s global network and at the same time provide Al-Futtaim’s customers in the region with a much wider shopping choice.
“We are confident that this iconic brand will be very popular among the large fashion-conscious clientele in the region and will add to our many success stories.” 
Barbara Boccara and Sharon Krief, co-Founders of ba&sh added: “It is with great pride that we are opening our first store in the UAE. This will be the first boutique in the Middle East and will be the brand’s regional showcase. We are very keen to display our style here.”
Following the opening of the flagship ba&sh store at CityWalk in Q4, there are plans to launch six more boutiques and three concessions in prestigious department stores over the next three years, the statement said.
It added that the brand is expected to expand into several territories within the region by 2019.

Ramadan Kareem 

Wishing all our readers a blessed Ramadan Kareem