By Edward Liamzon
Kuwait-based retail chief eyes growth but says the amount of red tape is 'very frustrating'
While Kuwait-based MH Alshaya Co is planning to open 1,250 new stores over the next five years, one of the main obstacles to growth is the amount of red tape involved in the movement of goods around the region, the retail conglomerate’s chairman told the Arabian Business conference in Dubai on Monday.
Mohammed Abdulaziz Alshaya, executive chairman of Kuwait-based MH Alshaya Co, said the retail operator, which manages over 55 brands, including Mothercare, H&M, Debenhams, American Eagle, Next, TopShop, Starbucks, Pizza Express, Boots, Vision Express and Pottery Barn, has ambitious long-term expansion plans in the Middle East.
“This year we have recruited 4,000 people and opened a total of 240 new stores and we have no plans to slow down. In 2011 we expect to open another 250, creating another 4,000 jobs. Over the next five years we expect to open around 1,250 new stores,” Alshaya said.
However, he said red tape was one of the main obstacles to growth in the region and one which he would like to see addressed by authorities.
“There is still too much red tape. Too much paperwork… [the] challenge of moving goods is very frustrating,” he said.
However, while he conceded that the red tape issue “is improving.”
Another issue highlighted by Alshaya was the recruitment of talent into the private sector, especially Arab nationals, which he described as “difficult”. He said the subsidisation of public sector jobs by Arab governments was “not the answer” and Arab nationals need to embrace the private sector.
“We have very few retailers who are born here,” he said, adding that few Arab nationals were working in the retail sector in the region.