UAE-based developer Majid Al Futtaim (MAF) Holding, regional franchise holder for the Carrefour supermarket chain, is to expand the French retail brand into Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia and is aiming to open up to ten hypermarkets and 15 supermarkets by the end of the year.
“We are already operating in 13 countries… But we have just added four new countries to the franchise agreement with Carrefour - Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia,” Iyad Malas, CEO of MAF Holding, said in an interview with Arabian Business.
“This year we will be opening our first store in Georgia, we opened our first store in Iraq in January and we will obviously continue to expand.
“We have 45 stores now, we have already opened three this year, and we expect to open another nine or ten hypermarkets this year. Then you have supermarkets too. We expect to open another 15 supermarkets,” he added.
As part of the expansion of its retail portfolio, the developer is also looking for new partners and opportunities for fashion brands.
MAF Holding is also looking at a food and beverage offering, given the high penetration of US fast food brands in the region, Malas said.
Peter Walichnowski, head of subsidiary MAF Properties, added the developer is eyeing up to eleven more malls as part of its expansion, with the emphasis also on smaller sized malls.
“We’re looking at around ten or 11 malls in the next five to seven years,” said Walichnowski. “We’re not only concentrating on very large malls like the Mall of the Emirates; we’re also looking at neighbourhood and community malls.”
The concept of neighbourhood shopping is becoming more popular in the region, with several rival retail conglomerates announcing similar plans. On average they consist of approximately 20 shops, while a community mall will have around 100.
“Over the next few years there is a plan to potentially, subject to finding the right land, at the right price and in the right place, spend around about AED3.5bn (US$953m) a year over the next two to three years,” said Malas.
“Neighbourhood investments are small investments, between AED70 and AED100m each, so we can certainly do a number of those without a significant increase in our capital requirements,” he added.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.
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