Abu Dhabi: Abu Dhabi residents may find many grocery stores and small supermarkets in their neighbourhoods closed from Tuesday, if the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA) strictly implements its deadline, which ends on Monday for their refurbishment as per a new rule.
But the authority had not revealed whether it would extend the deadline or relax the strict requirements for refurbishment as of press time yesterday (Sunday).
Some among the 1,300 grocery stores in the capital have already completed renovation and many of them are preparing for temporary closure for up to one month from Tuesday for refurbishment. But many others like Al Amani Corner Grocery in Madinat Zayed cannot meet the new requirements due to space and financial constraints.
“Our store is about 20 square metres but we were told that the new model shop should have more than 30 square metres,” M.K. Ashraf, the Indian partner of the store, told Gulf News yesterday.
He has been running the shop near New Medical Centre for more than 15 years along with his two partners.
“We thought of relocating the store but could not find a more than 30 square metre space in the same locality. Even if we get such a space, it will cost Dh150,000 to Dh200,000 to set up the store as per the new requirements,” Ashraf explained.
“It is very difficult to arrange that much money; still we thought of it because our three families are depending on this business,” he said.
They do not plan to open a new store somewhere else in the capital. “We are not confident of building a customer base in a new area considering the huge investments for a new model shop,” Ashraf said. He said he and his partners were expecting an extension to the deadline so that they can run the shop for some more time until they go back home.
No official information is available about the number of small stores that will close down forever due to space or financial constraints. According to salesmen delivering goods to the stores, about 40 to 50 per cent of the 1,300 grocery stores may face closure.
The Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA) had asked the grocery stores in mid-2011 to start refurbish the shops as per the new standards from January 2012 but before the December 31, 2012 deadline. The standards insists on restriction on the amount of items to be kept on shelves, 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 and wider aisles etc. There are optional items for adding value, like ATMs, coffee counters and microwave machines.
Al Shamkha Grocery in Khalifa City A that completed the renovation said it spent about Dh150,000. “We are still able to survive because there is no competitor in the vicinity, otherwise it would have been tough,”said Naushad, a partner.
Al Bayan Grocery Store on Najda Street said they were preparing for a temporary closure for renovation, which may take about one month. Nasrain supermarket in Khalifa City A also said the same.