x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Mall developers want more lease power

There were few rules in the UAE on retail leases, making it almost impossible for developers to replace underperforming shops even after the lease expired.

Mall developers should be able to remove underperforming shops after their leases expire, say retail executives who are pushing for new legislation to help boost the sector.

Shahram Shamsaee, the senior vice president of shopping centres at Majid Al Futtaim, said there were few rules in the UAE on retail leases, making it almost impossible for developers to replace underperforming shops even after the lease expired.

"It is legislation that is standard in North America, Australia, the Far East and many other MENA countries," Mr Shamsaee said last week at a retail forum hosted by the Dubai School of Government. "It would be good for retailers because retailers want to come into the region, but the biggest challenge is to get the right space."

The industry also wants reliable consumer spending data like that available in western markets. While the country's retail sector has begun to rebound from the global downturn, these measures could help it further, retailers say.

Michel Fattal, the chairman of Armada Distribution, which distributes chocolates and beverages in the UAE, said if the Government or a reliable industry body could provide retail-specific data it would help guide future growth.

"We lack data to better analyse the retail environment and I think something that can be done in this respect is probably to engage in public-private discussion," Mr Fattal said.

"We could put together a kind of index or create an institute that would oversee various retailers and provide data as [has been] done in western countries."

aligaya@thenational.ae