x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

UK government backs luxury retail drive in Dubai

Fortnum & Mason, the 307-year- old British department store, will open its first overseas operation in Dubai this weekend.

Lord Livingston, the UK minister of state for trade and investment, hopes that UK’s SME community will set up businesses in the UAE. in the Charles Crowell for The National
Lord Livingston, the UK minister of state for trade and investment, hopes that UK’s SME community will set up businesses in the UAE. in the Charles Crowell for The National

The British government is giving its businesses including its leading luxury retailers a push in Dubai as it looks to increase exports to the UAE, the UK minister for trade and investment said.

Fortnum & Mason, the 307-year- old British department store, will open its first overseas operation in Dubai this weekend. The store was showing off a selection of its wares at the British consulate in Dubai at the launch of Great week, a marketing effort to stimulate trade between the UK and the UAE.

“Fortnum & Mason is opening up its first overseas store here, which is really good example of a British brand that will appeal locally,” said Lord Livingston, the UK minister of state for trade and investment. “We have a 10 per cent growth year-on-year for exports to the UAE, bilateral trade between the two countries now stands in excess of Dh60 billion, and we want to build that relationship.”

Other brands on show included Lulu Guinness, Bremont and Halcyon Days.

The minister also announced a new initiative to help the UK’s SME community set up businesses in the UAE with the launch of the British Dubai Business Centre. It will be located in the Department of Economic Development to become an incubator, helping UK companies arrange a local partner and ease the path into the UAE.

“We hope to help a host of smaller and medium-sized businesses into the country in the construction and design sector,” said the minister. “Dubai and London are complementary as tourism and transport hubs and increasingly Islamic finance, which is now being offered outside the Islamic world and London is becoming the centre for Islamic finance outside of the region.”

The booming retail markets of the UAE are an enticement for many European governments and companies to tap into the liquidity of the current climate. Fortnum & Mason will open a standalone store in the downtown district occupying 9,000 square feet over three floors offering a candle emporium, a huge assortment of teas and an ice-cream parlour on the top floor.

“Dubai is pretty much the fastest- growing city in the world and hub for everywhere and everything,” said Alexandra Allason of tourism and marketing at Fortnum & Mason. “The demand from our clientele in Piccadilly says we should be here. We have a substantial number of loyal Gulf clients that enjoy the dedicated service we provide and come back regularly. It may not be a huge amount but it is the right people that are returning and makes us believe that it is correct for us to be here.”

ascott@thenational.ae

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