LULU today opened its 171st hypermarket, its eighth in Bahrain and first in the historic and vibrant city of Muharraq … and the parent company’s chairman and managing director Yusuff Ali M. A touched down in Bahrain for the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The giant store occupies the entire first floor of the revamped and newly-opened Muharraq Central Market and its designers say that the 8,500sqm space has been ‘designed using the latest retail space concepts and most modern technology for ease of shopping and display’.
Yusuff Ali said: “It has been our policy to reach nearer to the people.”
The new hypermarket aims to ‘live up to the Lulu promise of quality and value’ offering an extensive choice of meat, seafood, vegetables, fruits and herbs, as well as leading brands of frozen and canned products, alongside a wide range of electronic goods.
It will also sure to generate enormous customer footfall to the the new Muharraq Central Market which only opened on a trial basis in February, as reported by GDNonline, the popular portal of our sister daily newspaper, the Gulf Daily News.
Khalid Al Banafallah, GM of Tashgheel, the company developing the project, said the market will have 61 shops, 24 vegetable vendors, 36 meat vendors, 42 fish vendors as well as the Lulu Hypermarket attraction.
Bulldozers started demolishing the then-35-year-old rundown Muharraq Central Market back in 2013 allowing it to finally get a much-anticipated BD1.45 million facelift after four years of delays.
All this week staff members of the Lulu team have been busy making final preparations for the big unveiling ceremony and stocking up the shelves with fresh produce.
The new Lulu store at Muharraq Central was opened under the patronage of Deputy Prime Minister Shaikh Khalid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa.
Only last December, he also carried out the honours at the 100,000sqft store’s ribbon and cake-cutting inauguration ceremony at The Atrium Mall & Towers in Saar.
The royal VIP was joined by Yusuff Ali, the dynamic Indian businessman and philanthropist from Kerala, who said at the time: “It is a sign of our steady confidence in the bright future of Bahrain and our commitment to be a part of the progress of the kingdom.”
He has proved it once more with the opening of the eighth hypermarket in Muhurraq, confident that there is room for growth despite having a popular store in nearby Hidd, continuing to work on the successful premise of bringing the brand as close to the people as possible.
GulfWeekly covered the opening of the first store in 2007 at Dana Mall in Sanabis. The other stores are in Riffa, A’ali’s Ramli Mall, Juffair Mall and Galleria Mall, Zinj.
“I always say, if the shoppers cannot come to Lulu, Lulu will go to them!” he told GulfWeekly in an exclusive interview last year, also explaining why he believed the Lulu concept had proved so successful. “Firstly, wherever we establish our footprint, we embrace the community,” he explained. “We spend time finding out what makes the community tick and we become a part of it.
“In Bahrain, for example, you will find that while our core customer service values are the same, our aisles are stocked slightly differently to meet specific area needs. Moreover, every employee from the directors to the shop floor assistant believes that the customer comes first. It is this attention to detail that makes shopping at Lulu a personalised experience and not just an anonymous, impersonal one. That, I believe is our unique selling point.”
Yusuff Ali revealed that Lulu’s total investment in the kingdom had already crossed BD125m. He was quick to praise the local workforce too saying they formed the ‘nucleus’ of operations and were ‘a key’ to the company’s success.
There are more than 1,200 Bahrainis who work in the group, he added, and he was ‘proud to say’ that Bahrainis have proved successful in managerial and specialised positions not only in the kingdom but across the Lulu network.
Muharraq should prove a hot location too. It is the predominate city of Bahrain’s second largest island.
The capital of Bahrain from 1810 to 1923, the peak years of the pearling economy, it sits just above sea level over an area of about seven square miles. Muharraq literally means ‘the place of burning’.
Muharraq has existed since the Dilmun era some 5,000 years ago but came to prominence in historical records when Bahrain came under the domination of the Seleucid Greeks. The town’s geographical position, abundant supply of underground water and convenient anchorage for ships made it an important natural gateway to Bahrain.
The decline of the pearling economy and the almost simultaneous discovery of oil and gas resources in Bahrain saw Muharraq’s role diminish, and that of the city of Manama, located just across the harbour on the main island of Bahrain, expand. The development pressures on the new capital, however, helped Muharraq retain much of its atmosphere.
Despite a great deal of modern construction, in most parts of Muharraq city, the street pattern remains the same as in the pearling era, characterised by a maze of narrow, often picturesque alleyways.
And it now boasts a pearl of a hypermarket.
Stanley Louis Szecowka
Editor/Journalist & Blogger, Restaurant & Motors Reviewer, FinTech Writer, Manager, Trainer.
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