Forbes Middle East
The Largest Retail Chains In The Middle EastThe Largest Retail Chains In The Middle East

The Largest Retail Chains In The Middle East

The retail industry in the Middle East has, for years, benefited from strong economic growth and rising disposable income among consumers. But growth has matured within the industry, with many global retailers showing flat to even negative growth.

According to consultancy KPMG, “2019 is poised to be a transformational year for retail.” Technology continues to change the rules of engagement, and highly-connected consumers are more demanding than ever. Many of the region’s retail giants are trying to adapt to this new dynamic. Brick and mortar retailers are now improving their digital footprint by either investing in an e-commerce platform or by picking up stakes in tech-based startups in the retail industry.

The retail industry in the Middle East is extremely diverse but also extremely concentrated. It offers a huge choice to customers in terms of brands, with most luxury retailers having a presence in the region. At the same time, the industry is concentrated because there are just a handful of companies that are the principals of these brands. Most countries in the region have a small pool of companies, mostly family-owned, that hold the franchisees to the majority of all international brands.

While international brands rule the roost in luxury segments, as we come lower down the value chain, local retailers have greater market shares.

In this list, we look to highlight a few of the biggest retail chains in the region. Some have been around for many years—the Alshaya Group was first established in 1890 and employs over 60,000 people. Only conglomerates for which retail is a significant part of their businesses were included.

To develop the ranking, we kept in mind the following:

  • Number of employees.
  • Their geographical reach, including the extent of the company’s presence in each country.
  • The diversity of their offering—that is the number of brands that they offer and the number of segments that they are present.
  • Space occupied, in terms of the number of stores as well as square footage.

** This list looks to highlight the region’s biggest retailers and does not comment on the financial health of the businesses.

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