Auchan wants four more stores in Iraqi Kurdistan, MEED conference told

Auchan, the French hypermarket chain, plans to open four more stores in Iraqi Kurdistan following the launch in June of its first hypermarket in Erbil, The MEED Kurdistan Projects conference was told this afternoon.

“We want to take a leading position in Erbil and develop in other major urban areas in Kurdistan,” Strategic Initiatives (SI) managing director Osman Naqshbandi said. “Overall, we want to have five Auchan stores in the region. We are also targeting other cities in Iraq, including Basra, Karbala, Najaf and Baghdad.”

SI is an Erbil-based company and the Auchan franchisee in Iraq.

“We want to set up a new and modern retail chain in Kurdistan with well-designed hypermarkets of 8,000-15,000 square metres,” Naqshbandi said. “We are also willing to become the global discount reference mark in Iraq.”

Naqshbandi said the Kurdistan region is safe and stable.

“The region is experiencing one of the fastest rates of growth in the world,” Naqshbandi said. “The population is now 6 million and Erbil and Sulaimaniyah each have 1 million people.”

“We estimate the retail market was $3bn in 2012 and at least 50 per cent of that was food products,” Naqshbandi said. “We believe that hypermarket and supermarket sales will grow rapidly in the future.”

Naqshbandi said that modern stores account for 2 per cent of the retail sector in Iraqi Kurdistan compared with 60 per cent in the UAE and 45 per cent in Saudi Arabia.

“We feel that this level can be reached in Kurdistan,” Naqshbandi said.

Nagshbandi said four factors were supporting the Iraqi Kurdistan’s retail sector:

  • Favourable demographics with 3 per cent population growth
  • Strong economic growth with GDP expected to expand 80 per cent in the next four years
  • Sharp rises in the numbers of tourists and
  • Increasing expatriate population.

MEED’s Kurdistan Projects 2014 Conference was organised in collaboration with the Kurdistan Regional Government, the KDBC and the UKTI. Taqa is strategic event partner. Conference sponsors are Drake & Scull, Falcon Group and Hill International. Jotun is exhibitor and Parsons is networking programme sponsor.