Crate and Barrel the U.S. furniture and homeware brand is looking at expanding across the Gulf region and throughout the Middle East after it signed a new franchise deal with Majid Al Futtaim the regional retail and mall company.
Executives from each of the companies confirmed they would look at Kuwait and Bahrain for their upcoming immediate openings following a new store of 1,500 square meters in Doha during the fourth quarter of 2017.
We look at the region overall as being very interesting said Executive Chairperson Neela Montgomery at Crate & Barrel.
Kuwait is very interesting and possibly at some point Saudi Arabia and even expanding broader places like India, which is not exactly in the region but close by.
However, she added the company believes a number of markets exist where the level of taste will change as well as the GDP will grow making the expanding middle class appreciate our brand.
Since 2010, Crate and Barrel has had presence in the Gulf region following its opening of its first international stores in Dubai with Al Tayer from the UAE. It now has over 100 stores worldwide.
The just signed agreement with Majid al Futtaim gives that company exclusivity to operate Crate and Barrel stores as well as showrooms for the upcoming five years in Qatar.
CEO at MAF fashion Rajiv Suri said that besides Bahrain and Kuwait, the companies would look into Egypt in 2018 where it recently opened a mega mall.
It will consider other markets in the region after that.
The expansion of the brand in the region comes amidst a mixed growth forecast in the key market of the UAE as lower prices of oil dampen sentiment related to the economy.
The Chamber of Commerce in Dubai said the retail market in the UAE would reach $54.4 billion during 2017 and grow 5% per annum on average despite an expectation of lower growth.
However, others are not as positive and say a slowdown would take place in retail. One consultancy said that sales growth in retail across the UAE contracted to 6% during 2015 from 8% in 2014 and had contracted in 2016 as well.
The consultancy said that the Mall of the World in Dubai had been redesigned and scaled down prior to being relocated which was a sign of the real economic reality for the country.