x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Majid Al Futtaim plans Dh3 billion in retail investment for Dubai

Majid Al Futtaim Holding wants to build more hotels and malls as well as a cinema complex over the next five years.

The numbers of people visiting the company's Dubai malls rose 11 per cent this year, and the average hotel occupancy at its hotels in the emirate stood at 81 per cent in the first quarter. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National
The numbers of people visiting the company's Dubai malls rose 11 per cent this year, and the average hotel occupancy at its hotels in the emirate stood at 81 per cent in the first quarter. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

Majid Al Futtaim Holding plans to invest Dh3 billion into expanding its retail and hospitality business in Dubai over the next five years.

The retailer, which holds the regional franchise of the French supermarket chain Carrefour as well a series of malls and hotels, wants to build two further hotels, a mall, six supermarkets, and a cinema complex. It also plans to spend close to Dh1bn on enlarging its flagship Mall of the Emirates, and is already refurbishing two of its existing hotels.

The company believes that the investment is justified by Dubai's economic outlook and the potential of a successful Expo 2020 bid.

"All the economic indicators and our own experience are telling us that the Dubai market is entering a new phase of dynamic growth and development," said Iyad Malas, the chief executive of Majid al Futtaim Holding. "We are investing now to ensure that our facilities are enhanced and expanded in order to meet the future demand of our customers."

The numbers of people visiting the company's Dubai malls rose 11 per cent this year, and the average hotel occupancy at its hotels in the emirate stood at 81 per cent in the first quarter of 2013, added Mr Malas.

Majid al Futtaim will spend Dh930 million on upgrading the Mall of the Emirates, with the first Dh100m phase to be completed this year. It also wants to build a hotel adjacent to the mall, and a 272-room hotel in Deira. One of its malls in the city will be augmented with a 14-screen cinema complex.

The Kempinski hotel at the Mall of the Emirates and the Pullman Deira City Centre hotel are already undergoing refurbishment. A 50-store community mall is also part of the expansion plan.

Adding two Carrefour hypermarkets and four supermarkets to the existing portfolio will cost Dh96m. Majid Al Futtaim bought the remaining 25 per cent stake in the Carrefour franchise last month from the French chain for Dh2.5bn.

The pair have been partnered since 1995, with 50 hypermarkets and 44 supermarkets across the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia.

The company this year deferred a decision on tapping the financial markets with a dollar-denominated bond. It is unclear whether it will raise debt for its Dubai expansion, or use its cash reserves.

Outside the UAE, the retailer is expanding in Egpyt, where it is building the Mall of Egypt in Cairo. It is also in talks to acquire Metro, the county's largest supermarket chain, and the discount grocery store Kheir Zaman from the Mansour Group.

fneuhof@thenational.ae