LuLu makes headway into retail in Egypt

LuLu Group plans to invest about US$300 million over the next two years to set up 10 hypermarkets in Egypt as it eyes expansion in North Africa’s biggest economy.

LuLu, which opened its first hypermarket in Egypt in 2010, considers the country to be “a strong economy with high market potential”, the Abu Dhabi-based company said. Owned by the Indian businessman MA Yusuffali, who was ranked first on the Forbes magazine list of the richest 100 Indians in the Arab world last year, the LuLu chain is expanding rapidly across the Arabian Gulf, Asia and now Egypt.

In September, LuLu announced plans to open 15 hypermarkets in Indonesia over the next two years as the Abu Dhabi-based retailer rolls out a $300m expansion in the South East Asian country. The group’s overall investment over the coming five years in Indonesia will reach $500m.

LuLu, which with its first Egyptian outlet has 119 stores, plans to open its first hypermarkets in Malaysia and Indonesia in March next year. The group is also expanding in India, where it has operations in the southern state of Kerala. The company, which exports 50m Egyptian pounds (Dh23.4m) worth of Egyptian agricultural goods, is planning to boost the exports to about 150m pounds next year. LuLu will also establish food-processing centres to further increase exports. “The hypermarket will also offer a window of opportunity to local community. We will encourage the Egyptian agricultural sector by procuring and promoting local agricultural produce and also export it to our stores across the GCC and Far East,” said Mr Yusuffali.

The company employs 800 Egyptians in the new hypermarket in Egypt and intends to boost that number to 10,000 in the next two years as it opens more stores.

The company employs 3,000 Egyptians in its operations across the Arabian Gulf region.

Besides expanding in the food retail sector, LuLu Group has set its eyes on the hospitality industry. The group owns four hotels in India and one in Muscat. Its Grand Hyatt hotel in Kochi, India, is expected to open next year.

In July the company paid £110m (Dh601.8m) to acquire Great Scotland Yard in London as it expands further into the luxury hotels sector.

LuLu is not the only UAE retailer seeking to expand into the Egyptian market. As the Arab world’s most populous nation with a population of about 90 million, Egypt remains attractive to food retailers despite political and economic turmoil.

The Dubai-based Majid Al Futtaim (Maf) conglomerate is bullish about Egypt, having announced this year its plan to increase its investment there to 22.5bn Egyptian pounds from 18bn pounds.

The company is set to embark on a mall-building spree in Egypt as it prepares to open Africa’s first indoor ski slope next year. Maf, which has the Carrefour hypermarket franchise in 38 markets as far apart as Russia and South Africa, aims to have 55 supermarkets and hypermarkets across Egypt by 2019, up from the current 11.

The Egyptian government has endorsed Maf’s five-year plan to expand across the country, including the development of three malls and the expansion of its City Centre Malls in Alexandria and Maadi, in Cairo.


Dania Saadi

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