UK retailer Marks & Spencer (M&S) plans to open
three stores in Egypt as part of a five-year expansion plan across the Middle
East, the store’s franchise partner said.
The company will press ahead with the opening of its second
Cairo store by the end of October, despite recent widespread political unrest
in the Arab country, said Bruce Bowman, head of operations for M&S at Dubai’s
“We have undoubted confidence that we will be in Egypt for
the medium to long term, and it’s not going to stop at a second store - there
will also be a third and a fourth store,” said Bowman.
“There are active conversations going on with landlords in
major malls just now.”
Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous country, attracted
Gulf developers and retailers with five years of rapid economic growth prior to
UAE developer Majid Al Futtaim operates eight supermarkets and
two shopping malls in the country, with plans to open a third in 2014.
“Egypt is a key market. With a population of 80 million
there’s real opportunity for scale there,” Bowman said.
Al Futtaim currently operates 14 Marks & Spencer outlets
across the Gulf and is due to open its second store in Abu Dhabi in September.
Under a five-year, Gulf-wide expansion plan, the
company plans to open at least one more store in Kuwait and Qatar, expand its
stores in Oman and Bahrain and add new outlets in the UAE.
“The number of stores that we have in each country is going
to be linked to the size of the market,” said Bowman. “We’re looking for
additional real estate in Kuwait, there’s no doubt opportunity for growth there
in terms of numbers of stores.
“In Qatar we have two stores, but we’ve already announced at
a corporate level that Al Futtaim is building Doha Festival City and we will
absolutely have a Marks & Spencer there.”
M&S this year said it planned to speed up its international
expansion in a bid to offset domestic competition with revenue from
fast-growing emerging markets.
Chief executive Mark Bolland said in February he planned to transform
M&S “from a UK multi-channel retailer to an international multi-channel
retailer” by 2015.
M&S has more than 350 stores in 42 overseas territories.