Qatar firm sets up unit to run WH Smith franchise

Qatar’s Al Meera Holding Company said on Tuesday it has launched its own bookstore subsidiary, Al Meera Bookstore, to run shops for UK giant WH Smith.

The new subsidiary, 100 percent owned by Al Meera Holding Company, will operate stores in Qatar under the British franchise, with the first shops slated to open by the end of 2012.

“Our expansion strategy does not only include building more outlets as to increase access to our stores, but additionally to increase our product offerings,” said Dr Mohammed Nasser Al Qahtani, Al Meera’s deputy CEO.

“With an ever-expanding economy and a diverse consumer base in Qatar, demands and expectations of the country’s residents are increasing. Setting up the Al Meera Bookstore to handle the WH Smith franchise is one way of telling the people of Qatar that we are listening.”

The British-based WH Smith Travel is one of the oldest global brands, with over 550 bookstores falling under their portfolio, offering everything from books, stationary, magazines, and newspapers, to entertainment.

The first stores are expected to open in Qatar before the end of the year, and will be located in Ezdan Mall, Giant Hyatt Plaza, and Nuaja Mall.

In April, WH Smith announced expansion plans in the Gulf region as it looks to offset weakness on Britain’s high streets.

The newspapers, books and stationery retailer, which operates over 1,100 stores primarily in Britain, said it was targeting growth in Dubai, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

Also in April, Qatar’s Al Meera Consumer Goods Company said its net profits rose by 80 percent during the first quarter of 2012, compared to the same period last year.

The retail firm said that the profit increase had been driven by higher sales earnings.

Sales have increased as the Qatari company continued an aggressive expansion strategy that kicked into full gear late last year.

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