Gulf retailer Lulu announced the launch of its 100th store in Ras Al Khaimah later this month.
Lulu, which claims to control about 32 per cent of the GCC retail market, is also in an aggressive expansion mode in the non-GCC Arab countries like Egypt, Yemen and Iraq.
Lulu is also entering online retailing with the planned opening a new ‘web store’ targeting young and affluent customers. In the beginning, electronics and electrical products would be sold through the proposed Webstore.
Speaking at a press conference in Dubai, Yusuff Ali M A, Emke Lulu Group's managing director, said "it was part of our "Achieve 100" growth plan launched in 2009 to reach the 100-store mark within the next three years. We are obviously pleased to announce that our 100th Lulu inside RAK Mall, also constructed by our group, will be inaugurated by Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qassimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah on April 26". With 100 shops and an investment of Dh 400 million, the 100th Lulu outlet was completed four months behind schedule.
With a sales turnover of Dh 15.5 billion, the retail group grew 19 per cent last year and this year it will achieve 20 per cent growth, he said, adding that a new outlet is planned in Egypt besides the existing one and more outlets are planned in Yemen, Iraq and other non-GCC Arab countries.
The Lulu Group opened 23 hypermarkets and shopping malls in the last three years in almost all major cities of the GCC. "Not a single project was shelved or postponed," said Yusuff Ali. “We are going ahead with our expansion plans in all GCC countries. In Abu Dhabi alone, we will have another six hypermarkets which will include Al Ain and Western Regions.”
The group also manages 10 shopping malls in the Gulf.
"Though online retailing is still in its early stages in the region, we see great potential in it, especially among the youth. The popularity of the Lulu brand will surely make it the most convenient way to shop. Having said that, I see no negative impact of this on our regular store business as the vast majority of shoppers here still prefer ‘touch and feel’ shopping and online will help us add more new shoppers,” Yussuf Ali said.
The “Lulu Webstore” will be launched soon and will initially cater to the UAE market before adding other GCC countries.
The group’s co-branded credit and loyalty card, launched in association with ADCB, is another product that has got them a sizeable number of loyal customers since its launch four years ago. "Obviously, it has been a fruitful partnership with ADCB. We will be very soon announcing our next initiative in the loyalty programme with bigger rewards and bigger savings," added Yussuf Ali.
For the last five years it has signed an agreement with the Ministry of Economy for freezing the prices of essential commodities and has also taken many steps to bring down the prices of imported products. “As I have been here for almost 40 years, I know the pulse of this region very well and work according to the local demand,” said Yusuff Ali.
“In the last few years we have established our own sourcing offices in major hubs of Asia, Far East, Africa and Europe to directly import products to eliminate middlemen. We have invested in a state-of-the-art warehouse with an area of more than two million sq ft. in Abu Dhabi, where we can stock products for three months. I am also delighted that recent media reports have found that prices of essential food products are in fact coming down and Lulu is the most competitive among all hypermarkets here," Yusuff Ali added.
"We see great potential in the eastern and western regions for quality shopping centres and this is where our future focus will be. Apart from big format hypermarkets and shopping malls we also would like to take our ‘Lulu Eexpress’ brand to the interior areas and suburban communities across the UAE for UAE nationals. Our prices will be the same in all places and these stores would be quick and easy shopping destinations right at your doorstep, avoiding the hassle of long drives to big city-based malls," Yusuff Ali said.