Dubai-based Al Maya Group is investing Dh40 million in an expansion involving the setting up of eight new supermarkets and at least two fashion retail stores in the next 12 months, said a senior company official.
The company, which split with Al Maya Lal's Group three years ago, currently operates 30 retail outlets inlcuding 15 supermarkets.
It has opened 10 new stores including a number of supermarkets in the past year. Recently, it opened a supermarket each in Al Reef Mall and Al Murooj Complex on Shaikh Zayed Road.
The company is also opening the first British Home Stores (BHS) in Poland on September 9, part of a global expansion.
The company which along with Lal's and Choithram once controlled the UAE's organised retail sector, is resisting the hypermarket sector for the time being, said Deepak Pagarani, Al Maya Group's chief executive.
"We feel there is a room for the growth of neighbourhood stores, something in the range of 3,000 square feet offering convenience shopping," he said.
"We see great opportunities in neighbour stores, something like UK's Tesco Express. Within the next twelve months, we are going to have a total of 25 Al Maya Supermarkets, something in line with the Tesco stores.
"With traffic growing and high gasoline prices increasing by 30 per cent, we feel this segment of the market will only grow. Most people will spare themselves the inconvenience of driving to hypermarkets where parking is a problem, for a few bucks.
"All our supermarkets have witnessed a strong double-digit growth year on year in retail sale, which proves that we are on the right track.
"I think a growing number of consumers will shop at the neighbourhood retail outlets which offer them a great deal of convenience. So, we do not have any plans to enter the hypermarket race."
The UAE's first hypermarket was opened 10 years ago at the Deira City Centre, through what was then known as Continent, now Carrefour.
The French hypermarket giant has so far opened 13 outlets in the GCC and Egypt, generating more than Dh3.67 billion ($1 billion) in sales revenue last year serving 35 million customers, making it the largest retail chain in the region.
Indian-owned EMKE Group, which operates Lulu Hypermarkets, reported a Dh2.75 billion ($752 million) retail sale last year through 47 retail outlets across the GCC.
Compared to this, Lal's, Al Maya and Choithram as well as Sharjah-based retailer Safeer remain in the middle-of-the-market segment.