Despite several “soft” years, Dubai’s retail market remains strong, according to the CEO of Emaar Malls.
Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne, who joined the Dubai-listed retailer from Marks & Spencer (where he was executive director for customer, marketing and M&S.com), drew on his previous work experience to explain that Dubai’s retail’s market was in relative rude health and explain why he remains bullish about the years to come.
“I think it's fair to say that the last couple of years have been softer in terms of retail; there has been a bit of a slowdown,” he told Arabian Business.
“Dubai’s retail growth for the past ten years has been pretty amazing. We’re ahead of so many other countries - I’ve lived for the last 25 years in the UK and US and I can tell you it was just amazing to see the rate at which the Dubai market evolved.
“We have now had about 18 months of slower growth but growth nevertheless, which other markets likes the UK - it's hardly growing for example.”
Bousquet-Chavanne said the key question is ‘what's going to be the next phase for Dubai’s retail market’.
“There are a couple of reasons why I remain quite optimistic about the market. We've seen continued growth in tourism into the market, at a slightly abated rate last year, and wasn’t' quite what we expected but at the Dubai Mall we added 4 million visitors in a single year,” he said.
“We've seen the Chinese tourism really growing, the Russian are back, and great continued spending from the KSA as well.”
Emaar Malls, which is majority-owned by Emaar Properties – the developer behind the Burj Khalifa skyscraper – recorded full-year 2018 net profit of AED2.230 billion ($607 million), a year-on-year increase of 7 percent. Revenue for the same period was AED4.446 billion, 23 percent higher than 2017 revenue, the company said in a statement last month.
Continued government investment in tourism and retail, aligned with a growth in population and the lead-up to Expo 2020 are also encouraging for Bousquet-Chavanne.
“Expo 2020 is coming up- the ramp up to that is very exciting. I think we're going to have a great 2020. “When I monitor local consumptions, there is some softness and I think we will go beyond that as we go into the second of '19,” he said.
He added that Dubai’s retail sector appears to have overcome the hurdle of VAT being introduced last year.
“The VAT impact last year was perceptible and I think did have an impact on local consumption. We are now one year on, and I think we're seeing a healthier retail [market] at the start of this year versus last year, which I think gives us reasons to be much more optimistic.”
Fresh from its full acquisition of Namshi – acquiring the remaining 49% earlier this week - Bousquet-Chavanne said there’s still “great resilience and great strength brick and mortar world”
“We probably are uniquely positioned just because of the unique assets that we have in our portfolio,” Bousquet-Chavanne told Arabian Business.
“The Dubai Mall is one of a kind around the world just because of its attraction power. We just announced [in the annual results] that we passed 84 million visitors last year and therefore my ambition is to keep it thriving and dynamic and to provide experiences that only the physical retail can provide.”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.