Our Top 5 Territories Retail Leaders and Ones to Watch
The Middle East and North Africa already has a number of very well-established retail hubs, and plenty that are well on their way, but there are also up-and-coming regions such as Pakistan that are on the verge of breaking into our top five.
In 2015 Qatar was named the Middle East’s most attractive retail market by the AT Kearney index. Multinational high-end brands such as Harvey Nichols have plans to launch in the country, and there are massive opportunities for expansion. Indeed, an estimated one million square metres of retail space is set to open in the country over the next two-to three years in a bid to meet the Qatari demand for luxury goods. Furthermore, a series of infrastructure projects ahead of the 2022 Fifa World Cup, including Doha airport and Metro expansion, will make Qatar’s capital more accessible - thereby boosting retail opportunities further.
The UAE is the most established retail hub in the Middle East, with the nation’s big cities Dubai and Abu Dhabi competing with the likes of London, Paris and Milan when it comes to high-end shopping. By 2018, the UAE will have welcomed another big brand - Macy’s - to its already-packed marketplace, while Bloomingdale’s plans to open its second store in the country over the next two years. A Knight Frank report recently revealed that the UAE has one of the highest numbers of shops per capita in the world. A number of new malls have opened, while others have expanded, seeing 220,000 square feet of retail space added in just the final three months of 2015.
Retail groups are rapidly investing and expanding in Saudi Arabia due to the country’s size and recent boost in infrastructure. Al Futtaim Group, which operates Marks & Spencer and IKEA outlets in the region, has announced it will quadruple its retail offerings in the near future, while Sun & Sand Sports remains focused on the region. The drop in oil prices has seen the government trying to attract foreign investment in other ways, creating many retail opportunities. However, Saudi Arabia’s cultural differences mean it is not the ideal location for many people. However, Carter Murray is experienced in identifying those suitable for living and working in the country.
Italian jeweller Bulgari recently said that Iran stands to be “the next big thing in the Middle East”. The government has lined up a massive boost to the country’s infrastructure and is inviting foreign investment. Jean-Christophe Babin, the chief executive of Bulgari, said that Iran’s 80 million population has an appreciation of luxury informed by “centuries of culture and architecture”. Furthermore its relations with major players on the world stage have vastly improved in 2015, making entry plans for foreign brands easier.
Egypt’s presence in our top five might surprise some, but there is currently a lot of investment going into the country. Indeed Saudi Arabia’s Abdullah Al-Othaim Markets Company is planning a £26 million expansion into the North African state. It said the reason for this decision was that the company “found that the current opportunity and the economic conditions of the Egyptian market are favourable and encouraging in light of the continued growth of the population and increasing demand for goods and services.” Furthermore, developer Emaar has recently announced a $820 million retail project to be based in Cairo in partnership with Dubai’s Al Futtaim Group. The project will include a mall with a gross leasable area of 120,000sqm and will boast brands including IKEA, Marks & Spencer and Toys ‘R’ Us. Indeed, Emaar noted last year that the initial public offering for the Egyptian space had attracted more than 11 times the number of shares available for institutional buyers.