x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Marks & Spencer may take Ikea's old slot in Marina Mall

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

Marks & Spencer will join at least two more retailers in Ikea's former space.
Marks & Spencer will join at least two more retailers in Ikea's former space.

It is out with the old and in with the new at Abu Dhabi's Marina Mall, which is swapping Swedish furniture for British socks, shirts and sweaters.

Marks & Spencer (M&S), the UK clothing retailer, is expected to open a store in the mall, using part of the space vacated by Ikea, sources close to the company say.

The 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 than the retailer's existing Abu Dhabi outlet - which will remain open - in the Fotouh Al Khair Centre on Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum Street. The Festival City store in Dubai will remain the retailer's flagship outlet in the UAE.

Al-Futtaim declined to comment on the move, but a deal with the mall's operator is expected to be signed within weeks. Marina Mall has already put up signage guiding customers to the new M&S.

The store will be on the ground floor of the mall, and two other retailers are expected to set up shop on the lower ground floor.

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

"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 in recent years, which has meant established malls 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.

rjones@thenational.ae