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RISING RETAIL PROSPECTS IN JORDAN AND LEBANON

The retail sector of Jordan and Lebanon is a beacon of light in the Levant region, thanks to strong demand and numerous developments in the pipeline.

June 2015

Over the last few years Jordan and Lebanon’s retail sectors have evolved creating strong demand with the potential to drive real estate values.

Despite the ongoing turbulence that surrounds both countries and a drop in investor sentiment, experts maintain that opportunities exist for international retail brands to enter both markets.

JORDAN

According to Abdali Investment and Development, Jordan’s retail industry is continuously evolving, transitioning into one of the most sought-after retail destinations in the Levant.

“Over the years, Jordan has opened up to a wide range of international investors and brands, which now eye Jordan as a profitable investment opportunity. The retail market has been growing exponentially, introducing a wide range of options for its local and foreign investors,” says the company.

The developer goes on to say that with many international reputed brands positioning themselves firmly in Jordan’s retail scene, a number of retail projects are taking shape in the country to fulfil the rising demand “as well as to accommodate the rising interests of international brands and investors.”

“The country has market growth potential. Currently 70% of Jordanians are under the age of 30. In addition, Jordan is open to a diverse range of retail offerings and is becoming increasingly known as a shopping destination for shoppers from troubled regions, such as Palestine, Syria and Iraq,” says Abdali.

DEVELOPMENTS

One of the largest developments taking place currently in Amman is Abdali’s Downtown. The development spans over 384,000 sqm of land and is the first area in Amman that is being developed under the new local mixed-use planning codes, signifying the development of commercial, hospitality, medical and retail outlets under one address.

The retail component comprises Abdali Mall scheduled to open in March 2016 which will include 80,000 sqm of GLA. The mall will include Cineplex, Cozmo supermarket, Azadea Group brands, Al Shayea Group among others.

“The main retail area which is currently operational at Abdali is The Boulevard, contributing a GLA of 40,000 sqm which includes many fashion stores and F&B concepts in an open air atmosphere,” says Abdali.

“Jordan will also witness upcoming hotel chains opening its doors. In addition, hotel chains, such as St Regis, Fairmont, the W, Le Gray and Rotana will have small shopping arcades,” says Abdali.

BEYOND AMMAN

As a result of large-scale overseas investment, the retail industry in Jordan is shifting its focus away from Amman.

For example, Marsa Zayed, a mixed-use development project will include a 2km waterfront, 260 apartments, 200 townhouses and retail space, according to Oxford Business Group.

The Group also highlight Saraya Aqaba, a USD 1 billion mixed-use beachfront project which will comprise of numerous retail, business and hospitality offerings, as well as Ayla Oasis another mixed-use development in the pipeline.

“Upcoming retail developments will boost Jordan’s tourism sector, increase international investment into the country, as well as open up opportunities for further investment by brands and international retail divisions,” says Abdali.

Last year Samarah Mall opened in the Dead Sea. The mall is the first and the only retail and leisure destination in the widely popular Dead Sea area, which attracts thousands of locals and tourists.

In addition to its role in boosting tourism in the Dead Sea area, Samarah Mall has created over 200 job opportunities in the area.

LEBANON

According to a 2014 MEED report, for some retailers, Lebanon’s long-term prospects outweigh the current instability in the region.

“Despite the small size and relatively low income at USD 10,425, per capita gross domestic product significantly lags behind the GCC states – Beirut has gained a name as a retail hub. The city is home to haute couture designers such as Elie Saab and Reem Acra, who share the market with established luxury brands such as Dior, Cartier and Louis Vuitton,” says the report.

Over the last three years multinationals have invested heavily in the market, with U.S. chain Gap opening its first store in 2012 with Beirut-based retail franchise operator, Azadea Group. The Group has so far launched clothing stores such as Mango and Zara and French retailer Decathlon.

FOOD & BEVERAGE

According to the report, Beirut City Centre – which opened its doors in 2013 – marks the launch of Lebanon’s first Carrefour hypermarket signifying a gradual shift away from small, independent traders towards larger retailers. In addition, Spinneys opened in Byblos in 2012 and now operates in eight stores across the country, with plans for several more.

In 2013 City Centre Beirut opened with 200 stores across 60,000 sqm, serving the central and eastern areas of Beirut, strategically located in Hazmieh next to the Damascus highway.

While the food & beverage market has been performing relatively well, Bank Audi released a report in September last year, revealing that retail rents declined by 20% to 30% in 2014 across the capital city’s major retail areas. However, the areas of Badaro and Hamra were the exception. The Badaro area in Lebanon has seen demand outstrip supply and is putting upward pressure on rents.

“Badaro seems to be offering opportunities for companies operating in the food and beverage sector, with some available supply, and easy access from both within and outside the capital city’s major arteries,” says the report.

Lebanon’s retail development pipeline includes: the Spot C Mall in Choueifat, Airport Mall in Aramoun, and Spot Mall in Nabatiyah.