By Andy Sambidge
French retail giant says internet initiative is part of Middle East growth plans over next five years
French retail chain Géant has launched what it says is the UAE's first online hypermarket.
It said Géant Online offered the opportunity to purchase both grocery items and consumer electronics via computer and mobile devices.
Géant Online becomes the latest addition to the company's portfolio of brands in the UAE, which includes Géant Hypermarkets and Géant Easy supermarkets and convenient stores.
The online move is part of a growth strategy by Fucom, the master franchisee for Géant in the region, which aims to expand the brand across the GCC region over the next five years.
"This is the first time that a supermarket chain is offering customers the opportunity to buy grocery in addition to consumer electronics products in one easy to navigate website," the retailer said in a statement.
Mohammad Ashfaq, group business head, Fucom, added: "Géant Online has been designed to meet a growing need by online shoppers and also to tap into the huge market for online shopping in the UAE, which boasts of the highest internet penetration rates in the region.
"Our move towards creating a virtual hypermarket was largely influenced by the fact there's a young, tech savvy base of customers spending a significant amount of time online and that the e-commerce landscape is relatively new in this region."
According to recent reports, the Middle East and North Africa region is one of the fastest growing markets in the world for e-commerce with sales in 2012 totaling $15bn, an increase of 45 percent.
It is estimated there are more than 72 million Internet users in the Middle East and North Africa region while the UAE accounts for the highest number of internet users who shop online in this region.
Internet retail sales are expected to grow by 95 percent in the UAE over the next five years.
Sajid Azmi, head of Ecommerce and digital marketing, Géant and Géant Online, said: "Online grocery shopping is a sector that is growing rapidly in many countries.
"Given Dubai's position as a leading technology and shopping hub, and due to the increase in the internet and credit card usage in the UAE, we believe Dubai offers the ideal platform to start our online grocery business in this region."
Géant has been operating in the region since 2001 when it opened its first hypermarket in Bahrain before launching hypermarkets in Dubai in 2005 and Kuwait in 2009.
Globally, Géant, which is owned by the Group Casino, has over 115 hypermarkets, and is the fifth largest hypermarket group in the world.
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