x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Eros to spread wings in Qatar

Eros Group, which sells Samsung and Hitachi in the UAE, is hoping to score in Qatar by cashing in on hotels' and consumers' demand for electronics ahead of the FIFA World Cup in 2022.

Forward thinking: Eros plans to strengthen its presence in Qatar and target businesses before the 2022 World Cup.
Forward thinking: Eros plans to strengthen its presence in Qatar and target businesses before the 2022 World Cup.

Eros Group, which sells Samsung and Hitachi-branded electronics in the UAE, is planning a move into Qatar.

The company hopes to sell flat-screen TVs to businesses and consumers before the FIFA World Cup, due to be held in the country in 2022.

Deepak Babani, the chief executive of the electronics retailer and distributor based in Dubai, said Eros planned to strengthen its presence in Qatar and target businesses ahead of the football tournament.

"We expect a lot of B2B business," he said. "… Flat panel [televisions] for the stadiums, and for the hotels."

The country also aims to open an additional 55,000 hotel rooms, according to FIFA's bid evaluation report.

"All these hotels require televisions," said Mr Babani.

The world's biggest football event is expected to spur economic growth in Qatar and the surrounding region with the construction of infrastructure such as new stadiums and hotels.

Analysts expect government investment from infrastructure deals alone to reach 100 billion Qatari rials (Dh100.87bn).

Up to nine stadiums are planned, according to FIFA's report.

Eros's Qatari ambitions are still in the planning stage, but it hopes to open its first store and expand its office in the country before the end of this year, Mr Babani said.

"Qatar is one economy, other than the UAE, that has been growing. Now that they have the World Cup, it's going to grow further.

"It's best for us to have our presence there and feel out the market," he said.

"And if it grows the way we expect it to grow, then we don't want to miss out."

Richard Adams, a retail analyst at Datamonitor based in Dubai, said the World Cup, combined with the ongoing economic prosperity and wealthy population in Qatar, presented a great opportunity for retailers.

"There will be a spike in demand for consumer electronics set around the World Cup. As construction blossoms, you will have an influx of household consumer electronics, such as LCD screens.

"These kind of products will be injected into the system, too," he said.

Eros Group reported strong growth in the UAE, its main market, last year and revenuewas 37 per cent higher compared with 2009, reaching Dh2.19bn (US$596.2 million), driven by demand for flat-screen televisions.

Although consumers continued to be cautious with their extra cash, electronics manufacturers dropped the prices of their LCD televisions to lure in potential buyers.

Netbooks, smaller and more affordable laptops, were also a big seller last year, he added.

Mr Babani expects demand for flat-screen televisions this year to be strong but to level off slightly to 20 per cent to 25 per cent sales growth.

But as improved LED televisions are released, he hopes consumers will upgrade to the higher-technology, resulting in increased revenue, he said.

aligaya@thenational.ae