Bahrain: Retail gets a boost"
Several bright spots are emerging for Bahraini businesses, principal among them the retail sector, which is now showing healthy signs of recovery, spurred on by a major new development. The sector’s return to normalcy is expected to help offset economic losses earlier in the year and also send a strong message to investors that Bahrain is open for business. In late August, it was announced that a major mixed-use development in Manama has been approved. The 140,000-square-metre project, which will house the Manama Central Market, commercial and retail establishments, and residential apartments, will cost between BD150 million ($397 million) and BD200 million ($529 million) to complete and is expected to open within six years. The development, to be called the Capital Trade Centre, was first announced in 2008 but was delayed due to the onset of the global economic crisis. The resumption of the project will likely be a reminder for international investors that Bahrain is ready to do business. The contract to supervise the project’s development was awarded to Tashgeel for Commercial Buildings Management. At the contract signing ceremony in August, Bahrain’s deputy prime minister, Sheikh Khalid bin Abdulla Al Khalifa, said that he sees the project as a benchmark for the commercial, industrial and overall achievements of the capital city. Manama Municipality’s director-general, Yousef Ibrahim Al Ghatam, agreed, saying the upside should be significant. “When I look at the benefits for the municipality, the return from this project is going to be phenomenal.” In the more immediate term, consumer and business confidence appears to be returning to normal, with investors interested in setting up shop in the kingdom, according to recent comments by the industry and commerce minister, Hassan Fakhro. Source: Oxford Business Group"
Fujairah mall project set for 2012 launch"
Fujairah City Centre, a shopping mall currently under development by Majid Al Futtaim Properties, has surpassed several key construction, leasing and safety milestones confirming an ‘on-target’ schedule for opening in early 2012. The Dh400 million ($109 million) project is being developed in partnership with the government-owned Fujairah Investment Establishment. Khansaheb Civil Engineering is the contractor for the project. The mall is strategically located on the intersection of the new Fujairah-Dubai highway and the existing Masafi Highway at the entrance to Fujairah City. Fujairah City Centre has achieved a near-100% fully leased status, with 100 of total 105 retail outlets confirmed to-date, said Majid Al Futtaim Properties. With a gross leasable area (GLA) of 34,000 square miles, the mall’s varied retail mix will cater to the immediate needs and projected growth of the Fujairah community and includes the emirate’s largest Carrefour hypermarket and several new brands to the region, it stated. This represents a major milestone for the still-emerging retail landscape in Fujairah, said a senior official. Source: TradeArabia News"
Lebanon: Retail sees slowing sales"
Lebanon’s retail sector could be in for a lean second half of the year, with homegrown political uncertainty, regional instability and a slowing economy all contributing to a less-than-buoyant market atmosphere. The prolonged political stalemate over forming a new government, combined with uncertainty over its policy program and future stability, sapped consumer confidence and saw a scaling back of retail sales in the first half of the year, reversing a trend of solid increases in turnover since 2007. Along with many other sectors, Lebanon’s retailers have benefitted from the economy’s strong performance over the past few years, with average growth of around 8%, meaning consumers were willing to spend and take out loans to fund longer-term purchases. With analysts and overseas agencies, including the IMF, forecasting a dip in GDP growth for this year – expansion is expected to be in a range from 1.2% to 2.7 – this tightening of the economy could well see consumers rein in spending, at least for non-essential items. While the food and beverages segment may not be affected, it is possible electronics, white goods, automotive and higher-end clothing sales could be among those to feel the chill of the cooling economy. Another factor impacting the retail sector is the downturn in the tourism industry, with overseas arrivals down 20% in the first half of 2011, according to data released in late July. A study issued on July 20 by Bank Audi said that Lebanon has not been able to capitalize on recent regional turmoil as it had done in previous similar situations when both investors and tourists perceived it to be a safe haven during crises. Source: Oxford Business Group"
Expo to explore ME’s $30bn franchise market"
The Middle East’s $30 billion franchising market will come under spotlight at an upcoming international franchise, retail and business opportunity show in Dubai. The second edition of Franchise UAE will take place October 1 and 2 at Crowne Plaza Hotel, Deira. The event is organized by Franchise Middle East and supported by Dubai SME – an agency of Department of Economic and Development of Dubai, Ruwad Establishment, Middle East Franchising, Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Indian Franchise Association (IFA) and Commercial Office of UAE Embassy, New Delhi. In the Middle East, the franchise market has been largely dominated by American brands with a lion’s share of over 70%. Traditionally, fast food and retail segments dominated the franchise opportunities, particularly fashion, commanding almost 60% of the total market. However, as per the current scenario, the franchise business is diversifying and there is a huge scope for big as well as small franchising buyers and sellers in the region. Source: TradeArabia News"
US fashion brand announces Gulf foray"
Tory Burch, a luxury American lifestyle brand, said it has inked a partnership deal with top regional distributor and retailer Chalhoub Group to open its outlets in the Gulf region. As per the agreement, Chalhoub Group will hold the exclusive rights to distribute and retail Tory Burch products in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait. The US fashion brand is planning to open its first boutique in the region by the end of this year at The Dubai Mall. This will be followed by the opening of several other Tory Burch boutiques across Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait in 2012. Source: TradeArabia News"
Jafza records $3.6bn FMCG trade in 2010"
Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) and pharmaceutical companies based in Jafza generated trade worth Dh13.3 billion ($3.6 billion) in 2010, compared to Dh2.8 billion in 2001, marking an annual growth rate of 20%. The figures reflect trade generated by sales in food products, toiletries, cosmetics, pharma products and other similar goods. Jafza officials announced these figures at the sixth Strategic Customer Forum held specifically for Free Zone customers in the FMCG and pharmaceutical sectors. In 2000 there were 105 companies in the FMCG segment operating in Jafza. That number has since grown rapidly to 444 companies in July 2011.The number of pharmaceutical companies during the same period has grown more than four folds rising from 59 in 2000 to 259 in July 2011. Source: TradeArabia News"