The UK retail giant WHSmith has announced its plans to open eight shops at the delayed New Doha International Airport (NDIA). It is expected that the retailer will occupy around 8,000 square feet of space at the new airport, which is now expected to open in 2013. The UK retailer already maintains over 1100 stores in the UK, UAE, Oman and Kuwait.
The New Doha International Airport is expected to dedicate more than 40,000 square meters to retail facilities, passenger lounges, and multi-storey short-term and long-term parking. The airport aims to become a world-class facility and offer passengers the best in retail and convenience.
Kate Swann, chief executive of WHSmith, states that, “the opening of eight new WHSmith stores in this exclusive airport development further demonstrates our commitment to be the leading travel retailer across the Middle East.”
A Barclays research reports highlights that about two-thirds of British retailers expect overseas sales to provide a major portion of revenues for future expansion over the next five years. With the domestic trading environment becoming tougher, growth in overseas markets is viewed as key for survival in the retail industry.
UK retailers rate Middle East fifth highest, same as the US, as their preferred future destination. An estimated four percent of the surveyed retailers already rank UAE among their top three overseas markets. The UAE (7.7 percent) and Egypt (2.6 percent) are viewed as the most favorable countries in the MENA region for future growth. Asda and Tesco, two other huge UK retailers, are also gearing up to launch affordable fashion lines in the Middle East.
The UAE is seen as a popular investment destination because of favorable government regulations, buoyant economy, increased consumer spending and an emerging fashion-conscious middle-class. As a result, a large number of local and international retailers in the luxury fashion, food and beverage categories have penetrated the MENA region.