Al Futtaim to open Carrefour branch in Iraq
Dubai, February 18, 2010
The UAE company with the licence to operate the Carrefour SA franchise in the Middle East is looking to open its first store in Iraq as part of a wider expansion plan in the region.
Majid Al Futtaim (MAF) Retail manages a joint venture in the Middle East with France's Carrefour, the world's second-biggest retailer by revenue after Wal-Mart Stores.
In the past three years, the joint venture opened 14 hypermarkets, bringing its total to 37 in the Middle East. MAF is now turning to countries such as Iraq, Yemen, Oman, Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Libya and Lebanon to open new Carrefour stores in a bid to tap growing consumer appetite in the Middle East and North Africa.
MAF will open the store in Arbil, one of Iraq's largest cities, probably towards the end of 2010. "The north of Iraq is a very promising market and a stable area," Muhammad Naeem, an executive at MAF Retail, told Reuters on the sidelines of a treasurers conference.
"We studied the economy, the infrastructure, we see no uncertainty and no security issues in that part of the country," he said.
Northern, predominantly Kurdish, Iraq has emerged relatively unscathed from the violence that affected the rest of the country.
MAF, owned by billionaire UAE businessman Majid Al-Futtaim, traditionally enters markets with Carrefour as anchor tenant of its malls and recently opened a local version, under a different brand name, of the hypermarket in Iran's capital Tehran.
MAF is part of Majid Al Futtaim group, the company known for building an indoor ski slope in Dubai. MAF has also announced plans to develop projects in Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Oman.
The retailer is considering adding Libya to that list in the following years, Naeem said. "If the political situation improves in Libya, maybe earlier," he said. -Reuters