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Sun 29 Mar 2015 03:18 PM

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UAE's Majid Al Futtaim to expand Carrefour in Africa and Asia

Franchised store will open in Kenya in October, as the anchor tenant for the Two Rivers mall in Nairobi

UAE's Majid Al Futtaim to expand Carrefour in Africa and Asia

French supermarket brand Carrefour plans to open new outlets in Africa from 2016 as part of wider growth plans by its owner Majid Al Futtaim.

The UAE retail developer acquired full ownership of Carrefour Group in an AED2.5 billion ($680 million) deal in 2013.

Majid Al Futtaim held the regional franchise for Carrefour, the world’s second biggest retailer after Walmart.

At the time, it was reported there were plans to expand Carrefour into Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia during 2015.

Alain Bejjani, chief executive of Majid Al Futtaim Holding, told a press conference on Sunday that CIS plans were going ahead.

He added the company intends to expand Carrefour across Africa, because – under the 2013 deal – it holds the rights for more outlets than the countries in which the brand currently operates.

Majid Al Futtaim is scheduled to open its first franchised Carrefour store in Kenya in October. The store will anchor the Two Rivers mall in Nairobi, under a deal signed in November.

However, Bejjani declined to reveal further details such as the value of other proposed investments in the region.

Majid Al Futtaim celebrates its 20th year in business in 2015 and says it intends to double in size within the next five years.

It said Carrefour will play a large part in the company’s plans to capitalise on the growth of digital retail, with the launch of a new website enabling shoppers to buy groceries online and collect in store.

Meanwhile, Majid Al Futtaim is preparing to open its first shopping mall in Cairo – Mall of Egypt – with a targeted 400 stores across 163,000 square metres.

“The scale of the country was the reason Egypt was identified as a growth market for us,” said Bejjani.

And the company is targeting fashion brands to occupy its planned new malls in Saudi.

Also at the press conference, Bejjani announced the launch of an internal Dragons Den-style ideas competition, designed to encourage employees to come up with “the next 20 years of innovative retail moments for Majid Al Futtaim”.

Finalists will travel to a special ‘innovation lab’ in London to develop their ideas for a chance to win AED250,000 to execute them.

Bejjani insisted the shopping mall market in Dubai in particular, is not at risk of saturation and continues to offer significant retail opportunities provided they are “high quality, innovative and experiential”.

He added there are three million square feet of retail planned in the emirate at present, of which Majid Al Futtaim represents 24 percent.

There are no plans to sell or float any part or parts of the business, he said.

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