Lulu to open mega malls in Bahrain

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Bringing big box retailing to Bahrain, Lulu, the hypermarket and supermarket chain owned by the Emke Group, is to roll out its maiden outlet in Bahrain at Seef on September 3, a BD7.2 million, massive multi-level shopping arena.

This would be the 64th outlet in the Lulu chain of hypermarkets. Even as the Seef facility is ready for inauguration, the Dubai-based hypermarket chain is already preparing the ground for the opening of the even bigger Riffa branch – its second in Bahrain – which is expected to be thrown open to Bahraini shoppers early next year. "Bahrain has been on our list for sometime now. This is a big moment," a spokesperson of the Lulu group said, ahead of the September inaugural. The new hypermarket covers 180,000 square feet and features an exhaustive product range besides a massive food arena comprising of a live cooking section, ready-to-eat, ready-to-cook hot and cold food, vegetables, meat and fish sections and a wide array of organic food products air lifted from Europe.

"We are importing organic food from Holland, France, Italy and India as well as local produce from the GCC region in tune with the growing health consciousness in the region. Our innovative live cooking counters will be a major draw," he said.

One of the biggest Indian-owned conglomerates, EMKE group with more than 60 branches across the Gulf controls 32 per cent market share in the region. It is ranked No.1 in the Gulf region's retail sector and among the top 10 in Africa and Middle East, according to the latest report by Planet Retail, UK based retail analysts. Currently the group employs more than 18,000 staff from 28 countries.

The future plans of Group includes 11 more shopping centres in UAE, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Yemen by the end of 2008, revealed the group chairman Yusuffali. "The effort is touch the 100 figure mark by the end of 2009," he said early this week, after opening the Lulu Hypermarket spread across 200,000 square feet, the biggest in the city of Abu Dhabi, at the Al Wahda Mall promoted by the champion soccer club Al Wahda.

The Yemeni government in the first week of August allocated 20 acres of prime land in capital SANAA for another Lulu project and EMKE Group would be investing $200 million in this project, which will be spread over a 1 million sq. ft. built up area.

The Indian group also is making its maiden entry into its home country with a massive 1.4 million square feet shopping mall at Cochin.

The last six months of 2007 will see six new stores with additional branches in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Oman besides first time ventures in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

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