A listed entity, Quice Food Industries has a budget of $5 million to buy grocery stories or mid-sized supermarkets. Image Credit: Quice

Dubai: Got a mid-sized supermarket in the UAE to sell? A business group from Pakistan could be interested.

Karachi-headquartered Quice Food Industries, a listed company with sales of PKR2.79 billion, has bought its first grocery store in Dubai, at Business Bay, and is in the fray for more. “The intent is to spend a combined $5 million or so in a series of acquisitions of existing store/supermarket locations, primarily in Dubai,” said a spokesperson for the company. “Typically, these stores need to be about 1,500 square feet or so.

“Our food brands – under the ‘Quice’ brand - had been retailing in the UAE, and the country is our biggest export market. But retailing through other supermarket retailers means we have to compete heavily for visibility with other brands. That got us thinking about launching mid-scale grocery retail in the UAE.”

The first acquisition was made for about $300,000 and the location will offer a taster of what Quice hopes to achieve through the retail push. In its home market, Quice’s brands have prominence in the beverages space, whether it’s fruit of soft drinks or the sherbet variety. That apart, there are the ‘Naseem’ masala packs and noodles.

“We don’t see ourselves becoming stores for ethnic food and beverage brands from Pakistan – that’s not our lookout,” the spokesperson added. “Instead, we will be for all brands, and that includes our own. If in the next two- to three-year timeframe, this retail push helps us achieve an export increase to $5 million to $6 million a year, getting into retail in the UAE and other regional markets would have definitely done its part.”

Consolidation, expansion

On the one hand, there is fast-track expansion by the likes of LuLu and Carrefour in the hypermarket space, while the UAE operations of Geant was acquired by GMG, the group known more for its ownership of Sun & Sand Sports stores. On the other, there is also intense consolidation in the mid-tier space, with some operators exiting or closing loss-making locations.