The owner of Carrefour SA’s (CA) franchise for the Middle East will pursue expansion in Egypt after business at a shopping mall in Cairo’s suburbs recovered from looting during the 2011 revolt that ended Hosni Mubarak’s rule.
“There is probably no worse challenge than 2011 when the mall was looted,” Iyad Malas, chief executive officer of Majid Al Futtaim Holding LLC, said in an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “We decided to reinstate the asset, all the tenants came back, trading has come back, actually it’s better than pre-crisis level.”
The company, known by its acronym MAF, will open another mall, called Mall of Egypt, in the first quarter of 2016, Malas said. It will also start construction on a project near Cairo’s airport this year and expand its existing mall in the country. “Egypt continues to be a big investment market,” the CEO said.
Egypt’s economy has been stuck in its deepest slump for two decades since the 2011 revolt, as persistent turmoil deterred foreign investment and tourism. Oil-rich states Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have contributed billions of dollars to bolster the government of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
MAF, which operates shopping malls, supermarkets or hotels in 14 countries, is seeking to maintain the pace of revenue generation of the past two decades, doubling sales every five years, Malas said. The decline in oil prices should help retail business in Egypt, a fuel importing country, he said.
“2013 was a good year, 2014 again was a good year and then for 2015, our expectation is that it should be a good year,” he said, commenting on the company’s performance. MAF, which reported 1.9 billion dirhams ($517 million) in attributable profit for 2013, is yet to announce its results for 2014.