x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Arabian Gulf provides a retail lifeline for Clarks

Some of the most recognisable names in British retail were forced to call in the administrators last year. But Clarks was an incredibly rare success story.

Once upon a time, Clarks was one of many familiar retail kings on the British high street.

Now, with profits of £100 million (Dh590.2m) in 2011 and double-digit growth figures abroad, it remains an increasingly rare success story.

Some of the most recognisable names in British retail were forced to call in the administrators last year, including Peacocks, Game, JJB Sports and Clinton Cards. The latest to go was the electrical-goods giant, Comet, which closed the last of its 49 stores last month. Its demise alone cost more than 6,600 jobs.

Some fear this year may be even worse in the United Kingdom, which is why successful retailers such as Clarks are looking to fast-growing markets like the Arabian Gulf for growth.

Fellow British brands Marks & Spencer, Asda, Tesco, WH Smith and Waitrose are all also expanding in the region. In addition, the upmarket department store, House of Fraser, is expected to open its first shop in Abu Dhabi soon.

"With the current financial landscape in the West, retailers are looking for alternative sources of sales," said David Macadam, the head of retail for the Middle East and North Africa at the property consultancy Jones Lang LaSalle.

"The region has great spending capacity and the demographics are in retailers' favour. Shopping is part of the culture.

"There is a relatively small population in the UAE, but it has some of the highest earning malls in the world," he added.

 

gduncan@thenational.ae