x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Marks & Spencer to open in Dubai's Mall of the Emirates

Marks & Spencer, the clothing retailer, will open in the mall as part of its expansion across the Gulf.

Marks & Spencer, the British clothing retailer, is set to open a store in Dubai's Mall of the Emirates as part of a major expansion plan across the Gulf.

The brand, which is owned by Al-Futtaim in the UAE, also plans to launch stores in Muscat, Bahrain city and Abu Dhabi's Marina Mall.

Mile Franicevic, the general manager for Ikea in the Middle East and previously the acting director of retail for Al-Futtaim, said the company was expanding the brand due to its growing popularity.

"You have to be in the right locations in the right malls, it's all about the location," said Mr Franicevic.

Other Al-Futtaim brands, such as Ace and Plug-Ins, are likely to go into Yas Mall next year when it is expected to open. The Festival City store in Dubai will remain the retailer's flagship outlet in the UAE.

To aid the expansion, Al-Futtaim is due to sign a new general manager for Marks & Spencer and has appointed an operations director, Mr Franicevic said.

The top market for M&S in the region, in terms of sales growth last year, was Qatar, followed by Kuwait and Abu Dhabi.

In the first five months of this year, sales at Marks & Spencer grew between 6 and 8 per cent on the same period last year, Mr Franicevic said.

Analysts welcomed the move in to Mall of the Emirates, which would provide the brand with local access to those expatriates living in and around Dubai Marina, Al Barsha and Jumeirah.

"I certainly think now is a good time to expand stores. At the end of the day, Al-Futtaim and Marks & Spencer know their business," said Stuart Gissing, he regional director for Colliers International.

rjones@thenational.ae