Locals invest in Northern Iraq retail

Stability in Kurdish-dominated Northern Iraq is leading retailers to invest in their businesses

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By  Roger Field Published  December 11, 2006

Barcode Systems, a retail technology company based in Dubai, is experiencing its strongest sales growth from clients in the Kurdish dominated northern region of Iraq. The company’s manager, G Sreekumar, told Retail News Middle East that stability in northern Iraq, which is strong compared with the situation in the rest of the country, has lead to an investment boom in the retail sector. “There is a total boom in the economy there. The retailers are ready to invest and open new stores,” he said. “It is still not too advisable for the foreign companies to invest but the local companies are going back and investing.” Barcode system’s business in northern Iraq has grown by at least 100% in the past year and now accounts for about 5% of the company’s business, according to Sreekumar. He added that some African countries, including Sudan, are also becoming high-growth markets, albeit from a low base. The company, which markets point-of-sales equipment such as scanners and checkout equipment, is experiencing less growth in the Lower Gulf and GCC, where it deals with retailers such as Choitrams, Emke Group, Adnoc and Carrefour, Sreekumar added. About 40% of Barcode System’s business is in the UAE, with the remainder in its main export markets of the Middle East and Africa. And while it is the big retail groups such as Carrefour that generate the most publicity in the region, supermarket and hypermarket groups only account for about 20% of Barcode System’s business; the rest lies with smaller retailers, such as convenience stores. Smaller retailers are generating big business for retail technology companies, mainly because they are being forced to adopt computerised systems for point-of-sales and stocktaking. “The small retailers, those who are expanding their operations with multiple outlets have to computerise their systems as they open multiple outlets,” Sreekumar said. “They are forced to automate, which helps the retail technology companies in the region.” Barcode Systems, which deals with producers of retail technology, attended the recent Gitex technology exhibition in Dubai in a bid to raise awareness of its technology.

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