DUBAI // Nakheel, the property developer owned by the Dubai Government, is setting up a hypermarket chain in partnership with the French retailer, Auchan, in a joint venture that will spend at least US$800 million (Dh2.93 billion) in the next decade. "We will open 15 hypermarkets and 40 supermarkets across the [GCC] in the coming 10 years, and will expand into other quality developers' projects as well as our own," said Graham Dreverman, the group managing director of Nakheel Retail. The joint venture firm, called HyperCorp, will initially open five hypermarkets in Nakheel's Dubai projects. The first of the five will be located in DragonMart, a large Chinese-themed mall on the outskirts of Dubai, before the end of this year, while the rest will be housed in the Great Mall Dubai in International City, Palm Jumeirah, Jumeirah Village and Palm Deira. Under the joint venture agreement, the French retailer will hold 10 per cent capital of HyperCorp, with Nakheel Retail holding the remainder. "It takes about $20m to set up a store," said Mr Dreverman. "We are looking at about the same cost for the next few years to set up our first five stores." According to Mr Dreverman, Nakheel Retail will be more focused on Dubai providing "good quality anchor stores" for Nakheel's own developments like Palm Trilogy, Water Front, Al Farjan and others. "Nakheel is building community projects for about three million people, and these projects will need quality brand hyper and supermarkets," he said. "Nakheel Retail will perform this role." Mr Dreverman said the firm was looking at more than 40 stores in Dubai alone, to serve all of Nakheel's projects in the emirate. "The focus will remain on Dubai, but we will move out to other emirates as well," he said, adding that Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Ajman were among the other emirates on the firm's radar. Nakheel's move comes at a time when the emirate is seeing strong growth of hypermarkets and superstores, which are all competing head on. RAK Holding, based in Ras al Khaimah, last week announced that it was creating a new convenience store chain in the UAE, called Near Buy. The company plans to open 500 stores by the end of April next year. Near Buy eventually hopes to have a branch within 500 metres of every home in the country, with a total of 2,000 stores - each one stocking its shelves differently, based on the profile of the local population.