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Dubai still remains the go-to place for brands

Posted by Irish Manluctao on June 21, 2016
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In terms of favoured international destinations among global retailers, the UAE was the top choice for those from Europe and Asia l Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai:  The flavour of Dubai’s high-street offerings is changing… literally. Global F&B brands are giving their retail peers a run for their money in picking up prime locations in the city.

So much so, Dubai easily landed the seventh spot among global destinations in attracting the highest number of new brands to open shop last year, according to findings from the real estate consultancy CBRE.
Dubai pulled in 39 new names, just one behind London, while Hong Kong – despite the fallout from the social unrest that racked the city – raised the maximum with 73 new brand openings last year. Second-placed Singapore had 63. Another Gulf city, Doha, too figured in the top echelons with 29 openings.

Dubai as an Alpha City

In terms of favoured international destinations among global retailers, the UAE was the top choice for those from Europe and Asia, while it was placed second behind the UK as the go-to place for American brands.

“Dubai’s F&B market has been a key focus in recent years, and continues to attract significant interest from both international and home grown restaurant brands, with Din Tai Fung and Five Guys some of the latest names to open their doors to the public,” states the CBRE report, released on Tuesday.

“Despite challenging global and regional economic and political conditions, the outlook for the F&B sector remains quite positive. Certainly, we continue to see significant spending on socialising and eating out. Although it is clear the market is becoming more competitive, there remain tangible opportunities for well positioned concepts, particularly those which bring new experiences to the market.”

It was The Beach and The Walk that pioneered F&B clusters as bona fide attractions in their own right. Meraas, the developer, scored a third hit with the retail and entertainment cluster at City Walk – and a favoured spot for new age F&B brands – and could do so again at the Boxpark.

The impression is that Dubai could have raised more entrants if only there were sufficient new space available. The next set of new mall openings are still two three years away, while major expansions at The Dubai Mall and Dubai Festival City will raise significant new capacities. At Festival City, it also means a much expanded food court, something that will have new F&B brands salivating at the prospects.

Nakheel – which recently opened Dragon Mart 2 and additional space at Ibn Battuta Mall – has said its retail leasing programme is proceeding to plan. And that the current tough conditions have in way affected retailer interest for upcoming deliveries such as the flagship Nakheel Mall on the Palm. The developer is also using the appetite for F&B outlets to telling effect, with new clusters to come up shortly on the Palm.

Last year, among the retail brands to make their debut in Dubai were All Saints and Old Navy. “The majority of these originated from Europe and the US, with a lesser number from Asia and the Middle East; this trend can be partially attributed to the economic situation in home markets,” the CBRE report adds.

Dubai remains a favourite of global investors

According to Matthew Green, Head of Research at CBRE UAE, “With more community style malls delivered, it has offered options for F&B and certain types of retail brands. But such formats will not necessarily work for luxury labels, who will have to wait at least another two years or so to get into a new mall. New vacancies at all the prime centres are constrained, and brands need to search outside of these destinations for slightly more availability.”

Asian cities continue to dominate as preferred locations

  1. Asian cities dominated the Top 10 rankings for brands seeking international openings, accounting for four of the top five most attractive markets, according to the CBRE findings.
  2. Hong Kong was numero uno last year, followed by Singapore, Tokyo, Taipei, Moscow, London, Dubai and Beijing.
  3. European retailers dominate cross-border retailer activity, and are increasingly global in their outlook. European brands accounted for 59 per cent of new market entrants globally.
  4. Signalling the improved prospects for its economy, expansion into North America increased significantly in 2015, up from 3 per cent to 13 per cent.


Source: Manoj Nair, Associate Editor,