Eyewear retailers in the region are into major store network expansions, mixing lifestyle shopping options with optical care. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: One of the Middle East’s oldest names in the optical retail, Magrabi is spending Dh84 million on an expansion spree that will see 57 stores – new and renovated - open in 14 cities, including at the recently opened Dubai Hills Mall. The renewed focus on expansion will also see the brand make headway in Saudi Arabia, including a store operated by an all-woman team in Riyadh.

The company, marking its 95th year of operations, currently has 142 stores in its network. “This investment cements our position as the region’s leading optical retail brand, in both the high-end and mainstream segments,” said Amin Magrabi, CEO. “We look forward to continuing reinvent the industry and providing our customers with a truly unique retail experience.”

The new openings include stores under the ‘Doctor M’ brand, which is the retailer’s mid-market offering, while ‘MAGRABi’ sticks with its premium tag. The pace of spending could be maintained over the coming two years too.

The eyewear retail business has been holding its own against online encroachment quite well. All of the leading names in the trade such as Rivoli Group have come out with eye-catching expansion plans. In fact, online-first brands such as eyewa and Lenskart (from India) are making a strong push into the local/Gulf physical retail space.

According to a retail source, “Combining optician services to the wider eyewear retail operations is what has helped these brands to consider expansion. You have consumers needing regular eye checks and lens requirements mingling with those shoppers seeking eyewear to match their lifestyles. It becomes a win-win for the retailer.”

All-woman store

It is at Riyadh’s Al Hamra Mall that Magrabi has a store peopled only with women staffers. The concept was also rolled out by the LuLu Group at one of its supermarkets in Saudi Arabia recently. “We’re driven by our positions around gender equality and empowering our female talents is a priority,” the CEO said. “Our goal is to achieve gender balance across Magrabi by 2025.”

Store split
Of the new stores, there will be 16 under the Doctor M brand, while for MAGRABi, there be a further 16 additions and 25 stores going through various degrees of renovation or makeover.