Galeries Lafayette sets sail for Qatar
Galeries Lafayette is expanding in the Middle East with a store in the capital of Qatar. Following an opening in Dubai, the French retailer is moving on to Doha, with an opening in the prestigious Katara Plaza shopping center slated for September 2016. The three-floor 150,000-ft2 space will be franchised to Ali Bin Ali Group (ABA Group), which owns almost 80% of the distribution of consumer goods in the country. The conglomerate, which is controlled by the Ali Bin Ali family, has over 3,000 employees and has been active for 60 years in various sectors including distribution, especially of watches and jewelry.
"ABA Group is the kind of partner that we usually seek in order to expand abroad. They’re a private family company like us that knows distribution well, and with whom we would like to develop further projects in the region. After Dubai and Doha, we won’t stop there! The Gulf is one of our goals," said Laurent Haynez, senior vice-chairman, strategy and business development at les Galeries Lafayette during a press conference held on Sunday in Doha about the future Katara Plaza shopping center.
The negotiations with ABA started four years ago, culminating with an agreement signed two years later. The partnership between the two parties on the project was natural, as they have known each other for some time. ABA also has Monoprix in its portfolio. "When we started our international expansion 20 years ago, hardly anyone was paying attention to us. Today, we get a great deal of project proposals," said Haynez.
Currently, the French department store has five locations abroad. In Berlin, it inaugurated a directly managed store in 1996. In 2009, les Galeries Lafayette opened a store in Dubai as a minority shareholder in partnership with the Lebanese group Admic, with which it has also opened a BHV in Beirut. The store will soon be renovated. It subsequently opened a franchise store in Casablanca, Morocco in 2011 with Aksal and then another franchise in Jakarta, Indonesia in 2013, with a group that already owns a department store chain, and in Beijing, with the support of the IT giant Hong Kong Limited.
Besides Doha, there are two other projects in the works: in Istanbul with a franchise store with Demsa Group scheduled to be opened in late 2016 and a directly-managed store in Milan that will be a part of the future Westfield Shopping Centre. Other agreements are being negotiated, including in China and Indonesia.
In Doha, the team has already been put in place, while French architect Bruno Moinard, who has worked on other Galeries Lafayette projects in the past is currently at work on the interior design, which should be, according to him, "more modern and technological" as compared with the company’s other more conventional stores.
Les Galeries Lafayette in Doha will feature 4 restaurants. Nothing has been revealed, however, in terms of its range, no decision having yet been reached. Different brands will be selected by ABA Group under the supervision of the French brand, with the aim of covering from mid high-end to affordable luxury and high-end, so that they won’t be in competition with the other brands present in the mall.
“We’re unique in that we’re a fashion store with a range that varies according to the country where we operate. We have a large local range that represents almost 30% of the total range. In Gulf countries, for example, there were mostly local brands dedicated to beauty, while Indonesia is more about couture," said Haynez.
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