x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Marks & Spencer heading for Abu Dhabi's Marina Mall

Marks & Spencer, the clothing retailer, is expected to open a new store in Abu Dhabi's Marina Mall

Marks & Spencer store, the popular chain is moving to Marina Mall in Abu Dhabi. Jason Alden / Bloomberg
Marks & Spencer store, the popular chain is moving to Marina Mall in Abu Dhabi. Jason Alden / Bloomberg

Marks & Spencer (M&S) is expected to open a store in Abu Dhabi's Marina Mall, using part of the space vacated by Ikea, sources close to the retailer say.

The UK-based clothing brand, which is owned by Al Futtaim in the UAE, will join at least two more retailers in the 9,300-square-metre space.

The new M&S store will be smaller in size than the retailer's other current Abu Dhabi outlet - which will remain open - in the Fotouh Al Khair Centre, Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum Street. The Festival City store in Dubai will remain the retailer's flagship store in the UAE.

Al Futtaim were unwilling to comment on the move, but a deal with the mall's operator is expected to be signed within weeks.

Already, the Marina Mall has put up a sign guiding customers to the as yet, non-existent M&S.

Analysts described the move as "low risk" for M&S, which will benefit from the mall's strong footfall.

"Marina Mall is mid-range, so it suits the M&S brand, there's good footfall and the rents are still reasonable," said Michael Leighton, a retail analyst at CB Richard Ellis in Dubai.

A number of malls have delayed opening in the capital, which has meant established malls with strong footfall such as Marina and Al Wahda have become more attractive to retailers.

"There's a queue of people waiting to get into these malls," Mr Leighton said. "From a retailer perspective, they are trying to establish which malls will be delivered and which they should be in."