By Roger Field
MAF Retail confirms that Carrefour will open a store in Iran.
French hypermarket group Carrefour has committed to opening its first hypermarket in Iran, and Majid Al Futtaim Group's (MAF) retail division - which operates Carrefour's stores in the Middle East - is also looking at the country as a market to enter, Graham Dreverman, CEO of MAF's shopping mall division, told
"We're looking at the Iranian market. Carrefour has already committed to their first store, so once they're committed we look at opportunities. This year is a year of investigation for that market in particular," he said. "Tehran is 16 million people. It's hugely important - bigger than the combined GDP of Shanghai and Beijing."
He added that MAF is unlikely to be deterred by the notoriously high price of land in Tehran. "Land price is very expensive in Tehran, extremely expensive - amongst the most expensive in the world - but we'll continue to look at that market."
While Carrefour itself has remained quiet about its plans for Iran, one of the company's key food suppliers in the Middle East, who preferred not to be named, said that the group's first Iranian outlet is expected to open in mid-2008 in Tehran, and added that Carrefour is already in discussions with some of its key suppliers to determine which products will be available in the store.
The source added that Carrefour is likely to perform well in the Iranian market, partly because it will have the advantage of being the first hypermarket operator in the country. "A lot of people are viewing what will be the outcome, but it will have the advantage of the first mover. Whoever moves first will have the advantage to lead the market. That is what Carrefour is doing," he said.
Meanwhile, a possible move by Carrefour into Syria has been rumoured since last December, when MAF announced plans to invest more than US $2 billion in Sabboura district, on the outskirts of Damascus.
The mixed-use urban development, which will cover some 200,000m
, is expected to become a major tourist destination with 350 retail outlets, entertainment, restaurants and hotels, according to MAF.
"Syria has great potential and we intend to capitalise on this by creating facilities that will answer the everyday needs of Syrians and at the same time become a major attraction for visitors," said Ahmed Bin Brek, group vice president of corporate development for MAF.For all the latest retail news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
I always go to hyper market in Tehran that is the best in all over Iran and since you open it all of the other stores have become inactive.
I agree with Akbar.