Dubai retailer MAF aims to double business by 2018

MAF plans to expand into Saudi Arabia, Oman, Egypt and Lebanon

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Dubai retail group Majid Al Futtaim (MAF) hopes to invest $1 bln a year for the next five years in the Middle East to double the size of its business, its chief executive said on Tuesday.

MAF, the sole franchisee of Carrefour hypermarkets in the region, has benefited from a trade and tourism boom in Dubai and is now expanding into other markets including Saudi Arabia, Oman, Egypt and Lebanon.

"Over next few years we are very likely to be investing (a) billion dollars a year. However, this very much depends on finding the right land in the right location and for the right price," MAF chief executive Iyad Malas said at a press conference to announce a new branding strategy for the firm.

About 70 percent of the company's assets are currently in the United Arab Emirates but most of the investments over the next few years would be in other countries, Malas said. MAF reported annual revenue of $6 billion in 2012, 10 percent higher than the previous year.

The mall developer, famous for building an indoor ski slope in Dubai, bought out Carrefour's 25 percent stake in a joint venture for $683 million in May.

The unlisted firm was in talks to buy Egypt's largest supermarket chain Metro from family-owned Mansour Group but the discussions collapsed last month.

"We will continue to invest in Egypt and we are quite positive about developments in Egypt. There maybe political hiccups here and there but we are clearly investing," said Malas.

MAF has invested heavily into Egypt and has started construction on a $600-million Mall of Egypt in Cairo that is expected to open by early 2016.

Malas expects the company's annual revenue to grow by 9 to 10 percent this year.

($1 = 3.6730 UAE dirhams)

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