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The Middle East retail arena can be a difficult place to penetrate unless you establish the right contacts. We look at five vendors trying to do just that.

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By  Andrew Seymour Published  February 11, 2009

The Middle East retail arena can be a difficult place to penetrate unless you establish the right contacts. We look at five vendors trying to do just that.

There might be a global recession unfolding, but for technology companies seeking new areas of growth the Middle East still represents a compelling place to do business. That is especially true for vendors that draw the bulk of their sales from the more developed markets, such as Europe and the US.

As IDC forecasts suggest, the Middle East IT market may end up taking quite a big hit from what is happening across the world, but it is still likely to exhibit a stronger growth rate than the territories just mentioned.

The appetite that vendors have for emerging markets such as the Middle East was there for all to see at the recent RetailVision channel event that took place in Dubai. Around 20 manufacturers participated in the show, many of them using it as a way to take an exploratory look at the factors they need to consider when building a Middle East channel.

While many came with no prior knowledge of the movers and shakers that influence the direction of the retail business in the Middle East, they at least displayed an awareness that the dynamics of the regional market place remain vastly different from those they are accustomed to in their home markets.

For a start, some vendors in attendance had impressive track records in terms of their ability to make sales through partners in the mail order space or online market, yet those channels have never really gained traction in the Middle East and would therefore not offer them the returns they might assume.

Clearly, however, they were all in search of partners that can offer them the dedication and support they require to construct a sustainable business in the region.

Rarely are newcomers to the region in a position to appoint huge swathes of partners - nor do they want to - which means the emphasis is almost always on developing partnerships with local distributors and retailers with proven brand and market development skills.

The determination of so many vendors to establish trade links with Middle East distributors and retailers also highlights the opportunities for partners in the region that want to refresh their portfolios or work with vendors that bring a new approach to retail.

For while it is important for vendors to select the right partners, it is equally as vital for distributors and retailers to ensure they are cultivating relationships with manufacturers that can help to enhance their business, either financially or commercially.

Over the next few pages, we profile five accessories vendors from outside the region that are either looking to break into the market for the first time or rejuvenate a channel model already in place.

They provide a fascinating insight to the attributes they are looking for in potential partners and outline the benefits that can be enjoyed from selling their products.

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