Retail experts based in Dubai, warns international businesses to take their expansion plans seriously.

International businesses looking to expand into the Middle East and North Africa need to understand the local market better if they are to have any chance of being successful.

Do international businesses enter the local market with the best intentions or are they jumping on the gold rush bandwagon?  A question in the mind of many members of the public at large.

If there’s pressure on the home market and companies are not making enough, they may think, “Let’s look at a foreign market”.

Tesco’s UK market growth rate is minimal, but the international market rate is up to 15%.

More and more businesses like Tesco are realising that for their future they have to have balanced portfolios.

Looking at the huge markets in India and China and the growth rate in the MENA region they envisage to move there and even go forwards with the practical aspect but unfortunately miss out on the planning of the operation.

It is a view shared between many local experts who have warned Middle East based international companies to try and balance their portfolios to ensure future growth.  A common leitmotiv is thus:

Many “don’t understand” the competition, or not enough about the local market and local culture, and many don’t think enough about creating a point of difference; in any case it is felt many don’t do enough research.

In effect, whilst effective local partnerships are very critical; newly arrived companies in the land need to find the right partner and be sure the chemistry works and support each in any local setup starting endeavour.

It is advised that the key thing would be for brands to recognise their customers and to continue their work on the ground.  It is more than often the case of many not doing enough marketing and / or not willing to rejuvenate their brand as much as they should.

A recent report from a reputable UK Bank shows the UAE is the most popular country in the MENA region for British retailers looking for expansion but two thirds of those polled said they expect their overseas sales to increase over the next five years and rank the Middle East as generally their fifth most preferred destination.

The reasons behind the region’s becoming a popular destination for foreign companies are not difficult to guess.  These are fundamentally demographics; a young population with better disposable income and most importantly a large expatriate population.