UK discount chain Matalan opens first Dubai store

UK discount chain Matalan opens first Dubai store

Value fashion and homeware retailer plans to open 15-20 stores across Middle East.

British discount chain Matalan plans to open between 15-20 stores across the Middle East, its CEO told Arabian Business on Thursday.

“[We] want to open at least 2-3 stores a year so there could easily be 15-20 stores in the Middle East over the next five years,” Alistair McGeorge said.

On Thursday, the value fashion and homeware retailer opened its second store outside of the UK at the Arabian Center Mall in Dubai. The retailer, which has more than 200 stores across Britain, opened its first branch in Amman, Jordan in July.

Matalan opened its first store in Preston in 1985 after its founder John Hargreaves took inspiration from low-price, out-of-town discount retailers in the US. The chain has made Hargreaves one of Britain’s richest men with an estimated fortune of £330m ($545m), according to the Sunday Times Rich List 2009.

Cash-strapped customers have boosted sales in British discount stores amid the economic downturn. Matalan posted operating profits up 14 percent to £102m ($168.4m) for the year to the end of February 2009 and has plans to hire more than 1,000 new staff to cope with demand leading up to the festive season.

McGeorge said he hoped to maintain the same pricing model in the Middle East. “Clearly the cost model is a little bit different but we try to offer the same value in the UK as we do in other territories we are in,” he said.

The retailer may also expand outside of the Middle East with its Middle East partner Business Trading Company (BTC), added McGeorge. “We have lots of people who would like to develop with us in lots of other territories. We will look at expanding beyond the Middle East, it may well be with BTC,” he said