Lulu opens new hypermarket in Riyadh
Lulu opens new hypermarket in Riyadh
The new hypermarket that offers thousands of food items, fashion wears and home appliances as well as consumer goods of local and international trademarks, was officially opened by leading Saudi businessman Ibrahim Al-Subeai, Lulu Managing Director Yusuffali M.A., Indian Ambassador Hamid Ali Rao.
Yusuffali announced that an investment of about SR 1 billion would be made in the Kingdom in the next three years.
Saudi officials, businessmen and diplomats including Philippine Ambassador Ezzedin H. Tago were among those present. A huge crowd assembled at the gate of the new Lulu store at the time of the opening, giving a tough time to the security guards manning the entrances of the mall.
In reply to a question about Lulu’s plan for Saudi Arabia, the businessman said: “The plan is to open eight hypermarkets in 2013 including the existing three stores.”
He said Lulu’s expansion plan would continue in the entire Gulf region. Lulu will have 10 hypermarkets operational in the Kingdom by July 2014.
He rejected outright any threat posed by the regional turmoil in the Middle East or by the recessionary trends in some parts of the world.
“In fact, the response of the customers has encouraged us to go ahead with our plans to open more hypermarkets in the Kingdom,” the Lulu chief said, adding that the opening of the new stores are creating more jobs for Saudis. The new hypermarket has employed about 250 Saudi nationals. “We are pleased to appoint Saudi nationals and provide them regular training to enable them to be competent workers in the retail sector,” he added.
Yusuffali said the new Lulu opening takes the brand’s hypermarket tally to 103, giving the opportunity to continue to develop its internationally-renowned brand further and cement its position as the hypermarket destination for the local community in the Kingdom and elsewhere in the Gulf. The new hypermarket, covering an area of 200,000 square feet, has 36 cash desks on the two floors, which are very spacious allowing more leg space for people and playing area for kids.
The new store also has exclusive counters for jewelry, mobiles, perfumes, watches and cosmetics. In addition, the new hypermarket will feature the widest choice of world-class brands at the most reasonable prices.
“Moreover, the location of the new hypermarket is also strategic due to the population base of Batha, a highly populated district of Riyadh,” said Yusuffali.
“This momentous occasion is even more special for us since we have just crossed our 20th year of retailing,” he said. Over the last two decades of success and accomplishments, Lulu has earned the reputation of providing customers with a world-class shopping experience.
“The Lulu experience of quality and value is for everyone to experience from every corner of Saudi Arabia, and this is our commitment,” he added.
“Our commitments for Saudi Arabia are further encouraged by the stability and security provided to one and all under the wise leadership of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah, which has propelled the nation on to the fast tracks of development,” said Yusuffali.
He also praised the liberalized business policies and regulatory provisions, which have enabled Saudi Arabia to attract substantial investments.
“With three stores in Riyadh and one in Alkhobar, Lulu has firmly established itself as one of the most preferred retail destinations for both locals and the large expatriate community,” he said.
“The Lulu chain records 500,000 plus footfalls every day and the number of our customers are progressively growing. ‘Good quality products at affordable prices with best services,’ has always been the Lulu philosophy, he added.
Iran sanctions shadow falls on smaller German banks
- Some German companies plan to press on with Iran dealings
- German exports to Iran rose 15.5 percent last year
Germany’s biggest lenders have shied away from business with Iran after past penalties for breaching US sanctions, but smaller banks have leapt on opportunities afforded by the nuclear deal rejected by Donald Trump.
There are just months to go until a November deadline issued by Washington after the US president abandoned a hard-fought agreement that loosened business restrictions on the Islamic Republic in exchange for Tehran giving up its pursuit of nuclear weapons.
But some firms plan to press on in their dealings with Iran despite the looming threat of penalties.
“We will continue to serve our clients,” for now, said Patrizia Melfi, a director at the “international competence center” (KCI) founded by six cooperative savings banks in the small town of Tuttlingen in southwest Germany.
The center, which supports companies operating in sensitive markets like Iran or Sudan, has seen demand “rising sharply in the last few years, from firms listed on the Dax (Germany’s index of blue-chip firms), from all over Germany and from Switzerland,” she added.
German exports to Iran have grown since the nuclear deal was signed in 2015, adding 15.5 percent last year to reach almost €2.6 billion ($3.0 billion) after 22-percent growth in 2016.
Such figures remain vanishingly small compared with Germany’s €111.5 billion in exports to the US — its top customer.
Nevertheless, the KCI will “wait and see what the sanctions look like” before turning away from Iran, Melfi said.
Already, firms dealing with Tehran must take great care not to fall foul of US restrictions.
Transactions are carried out in euros, and the KCI does not deal with businesses that have American citizens or green card resident holders on their boards.
What’s more, products sold to Iran cannot contain more than 10 percent of parts manufactured in the US.
One of the most important inputs for the business is “courage among our managers” given the high risks involved, Melfi said.
Germany’s two biggest banks, Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank, avoid Iran completely after being slapped with harsh fines in 2015 over their dealings there, with Deutsche alone paying $258 million in penalties.
DZ Bank, which operates as a central bank for more than 1,000 local co-op lenders, is withdrawing completely from payment services there, a spokesman told AFP.
That left KCI to seek out the German branch of Iranian state-owned bank Melli in Hamburg.
Even that linkage could break if Iran’s biggest business bank appears on a US list of barred businesses as it has before.
Meanwhile, among Germany’s roughly 390 Sparkasse savings banks, business with the regime is mostly limited to producing documents linked to export contracts.
“We will be looking even more closely at those” in the future, a person familiar with the trade told AFP.
Elsewhere in the German economy, the European-Iranian Trade Bank (EIH) founded in 1971 is another conduit to Tehran.
Also based in Hamburg, it for now remains “fully available to you with our products and services,” the bank assures clients on its website, although “business policy decisions by European banks may result in short term or medium term restrictions on payments.”
Neither does the Bundesbank (German central bank) believe that much has so far changed for business with Iran.
“Only the European Union’s sanctions regime will be decisive,” if and when it is changed, the institution told AFP.
Any payment involving an Iranian party would have to be approved by the Bundesbank if things return to their pre-January 2016 state.
German banking lobby group Kreditwirtschaft has called on Berlin and other EU nations to clarify their stance — and to make sure banks and their clients are “effectively protected against possible American sanctions.”
KCI’s Melfi said time is running out for EU governments to act.
“Many firms just want to stop anything with Iran, since they can’t calculate the risk of staying,” she noted.
On Friday for the first time since the Iran nuclear deal came into force in 2015, China, Russia, France, Britain and Germany gathered in Vienna — at Iran’s request — without the US, to discuss how to save the agreement.