Enoc Retail, a division of Emirates National Oil Company (Enoc), is the latest in a long line of businesses expanding their retail presence in the UAE amid strong sales growth this year.
The oil and gas group Enoc, which is owned by the Dubai Government, has announced plans to roll out a significant number of retail brands across the Emirates, including Zoom convenience stores, a number of Italian food and coffee concepts, and its Thai restaurants, Lemongrass.
"The retail operations of Enoc have recorded robust performance this year, complementing the positive performance of the retail sector," said Abdullah Al Huraimel, the sales and marketing manager for Enoc's franchise and food services department.
The company would also look to expand outside the UAE with a franchise structure, he said.
"The expansion plans are also part of a long-term strategy to establish Zoom and Pronto as premier providers of retail across the Middle East region," he said.
Retailers throughout the country have reported vigorous business so far this year, with many enjoying sales growth of 20 per cent compared with the same period last year. This strong performance has prompted many retailers to invest in new stores and expand in malls, particularly in Abu Dhabi, which has significant new retail space.
Apple, the world's biggest technology company, also expanded its UAE retail presence this week with the launch of an online store.
All the major supermarkets, such as Carrefour, Lulu and Géant, are expanding stores across the Gulf and UAE, while big fashion houses such as Landmark Group and Allied Enterprises have also announced expansions.
Enoc Retail operates a network of 170 Enoc and Eppco service stations in Dubai and the Northern Emirates with more than 4,500 employees and serves 600,000 customers each week.
It will offer franchises for all its retail outlets, which include its Pronto cafes, Saquella Espresso Club, an Italian cafe concept founded in 1856, and Esspresse, its latest fresh and healthy Italian fast food.
Under the new franchising scheme, Enoc Retail will provide any franchisee with training, supervisory support and marketing tips.
"The response to the franchise opportunity has been strong, with inquiries from individuals, partners, corporates and even family business chains," said Mr Al Huraimel. "We have already sold four, and several other serious inquiries are in various stages of discussion."
Zoom, which was developed in 2009, was launched as stand-alone outlets in Dubai Metro stations, and Enoc is replacing the Aqua, Star Mart and Mini Mart convenient store brands with Zoom stores.