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Grocers struggle to meet standards

Store managers in battle to find cash needed to carry out renovations

New look
Image Credit: Supplied
A model grocery store. Shop managers need Dh3,500 and Dh4,000 per square metre for renovations. The Abu DhabiFood Control Authority says the changes are long overdue, with some stores more than 30 years old.
01 Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Hundreds of grocers may decide to close their doors due to the cost of meeting new standards imposed by the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority.

Grocery store managers have been asked to invest between Dh3,500 and Dh4,000 per square metre to refit their stores, but for some of the managers interviewed by Gulf News, the amount was unaffordable.

"I agree with this, but the thing is economically we can't afford that amount. It's too much," said Mohammad Aji, an employee at a grocery store on Khalifa Street.

Aji said that the grocery store, which is almost 15 years old, is 50 square metres and makes an average profit of Dh4,000 to Dh5,000 a month. He said based on ADFCA's renovation estimates, they would need about Dh200,000 to meet new standards.

"If it's 10, 20 or 25 thousand [dirhams], then we can afford that," he said. "If we can't afford it, we will close. "Besides, the building we're in is very old and may be demolished within three to five years."

Financial support

Abdullah Kutty, an employee at a grocery store in Shahama, said his main concern was getting the financial support in order to make the renovation. He said they only can afford an average of Dh500 per square metre.

He said the shop would have to close down if the only other choice is to make the investment.

It's not just the grocers who are concerned about the implications of these new regulations.

Mohsin Mohuiddin, part owner of Al Ameen Bakery in Al Ain, said that groceries make up almost 80 per cent of their monthly sales.

Currently, Al Ameen Bakery supplies 400 grocers in Al Ain and 200 in Abu Dhabi, Mohuiddin said. He said he's attending the ADFCA's public meeting to see what effect this would have on their business and whether they would need to redirect their business to another sector.

But Mohammad Jalal Al Reyaysa, Director of Communication and Community Service at ADFCA, said it was not the authority's intention to force grocers to close.

"It's basically their decision. We are not going to force them [to close down]. They have to implement and they will decide to go ahead or stop," he said.

"We have to make sure that the future of grocery stores matches the country's 2030 vision. "We are talking about a grocery store that's 30 years old that has never been updated and owners need to invest a portion of their revenue in advancing the grocery."

Minimum standards

  • Uniforms for staff
  • Store security system
  • Till machines
  • Cooler boxes
  • Bicycles for delivery
  • Clear display of prices
  • Corner storage room
  • Overhead storage cabinets
  •  Clear shop front
  • Wider aisles
  • Optional items for adding value, like ATMs, coffee counters and microwaves

Violations uncovered in groceries

  • Boxes stored in the front of the store
  • Snack items hanging from the power line
  • Access to chillers blocked by boxes displayed on the floor
  • Staff not wearing gloves when handling fresh fruit and vegetables, thereby increasing the risk of contamination
  • Poor visibility of the stores because of the display of stickers at the entrance
  • Cleaning implements kept in front of the entrance.

— Source: Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority