Emke on target with GCC expansion plans

With an investment of US$381 million earmarked for 2006 alone, Emke's regional expansion plan is in full flight.

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By  Roger Field Published  April 5, 2006

LuLu Hypermarkets, a division of the UAE-based Emke Group, is planning to increase its presence in Oman this month with the opening of an AED190 million (US $51.7 million) hypermarket in Sohar. The group’s investment in Oman, where it already has three stores, is part of a wider expansion plan across the GCC, that will see the group open 17 new hypermarkets in the region by 2007, and invest about AED 1.4 billion (US $381 million), this year alone. The new store in Oman’s Sohar district will cover some 200,000 square feet and sell goods from groceries to clothes and electronics. The store will also feature some tenant outlets, including a mobile phone shop, Ashraf Ali MA, Emke group’s executive director, told Retail News Middle East. “It’s a hypermarket that has supermarket and department store together in two levels,” Ali MA said. “It will be the fourth store in Oman; we already have two in Muscat, and one in Salala. It’s like one of the hypermarkets we have in Dubai.” For LuLu, the development is the latest in a series of investments in Oman that has seen the group awarded for the employment it has generated in the country. Lulu invested more than US $60 million in Oman in 2005, generating employment for 1,450 Omanis, and the company is set to employ a further 500 people in the country this year, according to Ali MA. LuLu Oman was recently presented with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development Award for ‘significant employment generating investment for the 2006’ at a ceremony in Jordan. Emke’s expansion plans also extend beyond Oman, and the group plans to open new hypermarkets across the GCC in 2006 and 2007. “We are opening one hypermarket in Aden in Yemen which will be some time in May or June,” Ali MA said. "We have just signed a deal in Bahrain to open one there around June and we’ve just started work on Saudi projects in Amman and Riyadh." The group is also moving into the lucrative shopping mall sector and has already signed an agreement to take over the management of Al Burj shopping centre in Oman, and another deal to manage and run Al Raha Shopping Mall in Abu Dhabi. Emke is also in the process of completing construction of its Khalidiyah and Al Wahda malls, in Abu Dhabi. “The work on the Al Wahda Mall of which we took the management rights recently is also progressing rapidly and will be completed in the fourth quarter of this year, Ali MA said. “This is part of the mega shopping, residential and commercial project being promoted by the champion football club of Abu Dhabi...Al Wahda Club in the very heart of the capital city,” he added.

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