By Peter Alagos/Business Reporter
Al Meera Consumer Goods Company (Al Meera) is aiming to increase the selling area of the group from the current 97,000sq m to over 100,000sq m by the end of the year as part of its main expansion objective for 2019.
This was announced yesterday during the company’s annual general assembly, which was presided over by Al Meera chaiman Sheikh Thani bin Thamer al-Thani. During the meeting, the assembly approved the board of directors’ proposal on the distribution of cash dividends of QR8.5 per share.
On other plans, it was also announced that the development of the new mall in Rawdat Al Hamama is nearing completion and is planned to open for business in the third quarter of 2019.
“Indeed, the year 2019 will witness the construction of Al Jumailia branch and Al Shamal branch, which will replace the old branches and provide service to customers,” said Al Meera vice chairman Dr Saif Said al-Sowaidi.
In addition to the 10 MAAR convenience stores in Qatar Rail, Al Meera has 20 pieces of land from the Qatar government currently under study and evaluation for future development. Of these 20 pieces of land, Al Meera has started soliciting consulting companies for design consultancy and technical services for five of these sites in 2019.
The group is also assessing the feasibility of leasing various new sites in Qatar and considering a number of potential acquisition opportunities, which, if executed, will enlarge operations and contribute significantly to future sales, al-Sowaidi said.
“Al Meera recognises the existence of opportunities to enhance the fresh section even further. We are tempted to implement a plan to accomplish this. However, what we have started in one of our branches is under assessment for improvement before adopting a suitable model of managing the fresh in all Al Meera branches.
“Seemingly, we will revisit the experience of our private label because it has not been assessed as there exists an array of opportunities to increase sales and profit. Therefore, 2019 is likely to witness a relaunch of Al Meera private label products, and this will include design, diversity, product range, packaging, and re-branding. We foresee in this an element, which could feed into net profit,” he said.
Realising the need to attract young Qataris to join the company, al-Sowaidi said Al Meera is planning to set up a training academy, which has a two-fold objective.
The first objective is to establish a platform to train staff and continue to improve their knowledge and skills to be more effective, efficient, and be more customer-focused, while the second purpose is to deliver basic retail training to school students and college students to expose them to retail and energise their interests in business.
“One day some of these students may join Al Meera and reach executive positions,” al-Sowaidi said.
In 2018, group sales increased 4.7% (QR134.8mn) from QR2.8bn to QR3bn. Gross profit increased 3.9% (QR18.5mn) from QR477.9mn to QR496.4mn, while group gross shops rental income increased 9.1% (QR6.3mn) from QR69.5mn to QR75.8mn. Al Meera group’s operating income increased 4.1% (QR23mn) from QR563.7mn to QR586.7mn.
Al-Sowaidi said: “As the ongoing unjust economic blockade imposed on Qatar enters its second year, and consumer spending in many sectors, including the retail sector, continues its decline, with several retail chains exiting the Qatar market, Al Meera has not only managed to retain its market share but has seen its sales grown by 4.7% in 2018 compared to 2017.
“Over the last eight years, Al Meera has expanded and grown significantly in line with the strategic directives set by the board from 25 stores at the beginning of 2011 to 52 stores in Qatar, plus five stores in the Sultanate of Oman. The total store selling area of the group currently exceeds 97,000sq m approximately.”
He added: “In Oman, Al Meera has started the construction of its commercial centre in Al Amirat, with the second commercial centre in Salalah under bidding to fulfil its vision for the Omani market to double its network of branches in the Sultanate. Furthermore, a new branch has been opened in Sohar replacing an old branch.”
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