Muscat: Al Karama Hypermarket, which has a strong presence in the country's interior regions with its four outlets, is planning to invest OMR10 million to expand its retail outlet network into Bahla, Duqm and Seeb this year, senior level officials of the retail chain told journalists.
The Bahla hypermarket, which will be the fifth outlet boasting an area of 5,000 square metres, will open its door for customers on May 22, bringing to 35,000 square metres the total retail space of the chain's five outlets.
"Our aim is to have at least 50,000 square metres of retail space by 2015. We have more projects coming up shortly in Duqm and Seeb. The project reports are ready and the work will start shortly," said newly-appointed Group General Manager Harish Rajgopal.
He also noted that the group has plans for diversifying into the healthcare business, and will soon open a chain of dental clinics. "We are planning to open dental clinics once we get approval."
Further, Al Karama Hypermarket will be building an 8,000 square foot, centralised warehouse facility between Khabura and Seeb. "As we are growing, the most important thing is to have a centralised warehouse, which will soon be built in Oman in order to extend our support to bulk buyers, which is on an increase, and we will have undisturbed flow of stocks to all Al Karama branches in Oman," he noted.
Responding to a question on how the labour-intensive retail outlets are going to address a government decision to raise the minimum salary of Omani workers beginning in July, Rajgopal said the retail chains have to take a collective decision to minimise the impact of the wage bill. "We have to be prepared for it and find some way out. We have to increase the turnover and maintain the cost of items for our customers," he said.
Presently, Al Karama Hypermarket has 250 employees, which include 135 Omani staff. "This will go up to 300 staff, as we are in the process of hiring 100 Omani staff and 58 expatriates for our Bahla hypermarket," he added.
Al Karama has been successful in reaching out to Omanis and residents at their door steps and providing loyal customers with all the new technologies, including electronics, households, groceries and other items, without their needing to travel far from their homes.