Retail sector in Egypt

Egypt’s retail and wholesale sectors developed significantly in recent years. Retails sales rose due to a large and youthful population, the emergence of a more affluent middle class, a vibrant tourism industry and the growing acceptance of modern retail concepts.

Market overview

It should be noted that there are potential risks. Political instability remains, with the constitution yet to be decided and new Parliamentary and Presidential elections due in the next 18 months. However, despite these risks, the growing and increasingly affluent population means that foreign retailers should view Egypt as a country of huge potential, and one worth investing in.

The value of the retail segment is forecast by BMI to grow by 63.4% in local currency terms, from an expected EGP223.82bn (US$41.22bn) in 2013 to EGP365.73bn (US$67.35bn) by 2017, given long-term political stability.

Two-thirds of British retailers (66%) expect their overseas sales to increase over the next five years, according to research from Barclays, and Egypt was listed as the second most popular country within the MENA region.

Egypt’s substantial population makes it the largest market in the Arab world. With a forecast population increasing from 85mn in 2013 to an estimated 91mn by 2017, GDP per capita is predicted to almost double, reaching US$5,843. Egypt’s nominal GDP is predicted to be US$247.27bn in 2013, with real annual growth of 1.9% forecast for the year. Average annual real GDP growth of 4.6% is forecast by BMI between 2013 and 2017.

Market uncertainties have impacted the retail market, with no deliveries in the first half of 2013, leaving stock stable at 773,000sqm. By the end of year 2013 Cairo Festival City mall will enter the market with a total of 150,000 GLA. Emerald Mall and Porto Cairo Mall are likely to be delayed until 2014.

The apparel sector dominates the Egyptian retail market, and large UK fashion brands such as Mothercare, New Look, Claire, Monsoon, Virgin, Burburry and Next are to be found in the Egyptian malls. Retailers taking advantage of an increase in supply include Marks & Spencer (M&S), which in 2010 opened its first Egyptian store. Represented by the Al-Futtaim Group (AFG), it currently has three stores in Egypt, and plans to open another in December 2013 in Cairo Festival City Mall. In 2010, Debenhams expanded into Africa with its first store in the Alexandria City Centre mall. Other foreign, higher-end fashion brands are also to be found in the malls, with Calvin Klein, Hugo Boss making an appearance- although to a lesser extent than the aforementioned fashion chains. Other sectors also contain international brands, such as the electronics companies Panasonic, Sony, and Samsung, the telecommunications firm Vodafone, which has the largest network of retail outlets in Egypt, as well as the cosmetics shop The Body Shop.

International retail groups have continued to launch new accessories and leather brands in the market. Significant new entrants in Q2 2013 included Michael Kors which has opened its first store in City Stars shopping mall (150,000GLA), the largest shopping center in the Middle East and North Africa. Tommy Hilfiger has also launched its kids line this year but in a standalone store. UK Hamleys are to open their first store in Egypt at Cairo Festival City Mall by the end of this year.

Some facts & Figures:

Apparel Retail Industry:

  • Market value forecast: By 2016, the Egyptian apparel retail industry is forecast to value $11,025.8 million, 28.2% increase on 2011

  • Category segmentation: Womenswear is the largest segment of the apparel retail industry in Egypt, accounting for 47.4% of the industry’s total value

Food Retail Industry:

  • Market value forecast: In 2016, the Egyptian food retail industry is forecast to have a value of $55.3 billion, an increase of 31.7% since 2011

Grocery Retail Industry:

Still populated by micro enterprises, the Egyptian retail sector is a Greenfield for investors. 70% of the grocery retail sales were from non-organized and independent enterprises in 2007; this number is expected to fall by 7% in 2017. The top five retail players hold only 1.8% of total market share, leaving plenty of space for new market entrants, while regional centers outside of Cairo and Alexandria are virtually untouched markets with millions of under-served consumers

Key opportunities

  • Vehicles unit of sales forecast to increase by 126% between 2012 and 2016, from 185,680 units to 419,598 units. Car ownership in Egypt is estimated at around 23 cars per 1,000 people, compared with 35 per 1,000 in Iran and more than 100 per 1,000 in Saudi Arabia, which means the country has considerable room for growth.

  • Over-the-counter (OTC) pharmaceuticals, with sales expected to grow by 96.6% from US$0.50bn in 2012 to US$0.99bn by 2016.

  • Consumer electronics market: one of the largest in the Middle East; sales are forecast to increase further from an expected US$3.73bn in 2012 to US$5.63bn in 2016, a rise of 50.8%. Demand will be driven by an expanding population, 50% of which is estimated to be under 25. A survey by market research firm Nielsen found that 88% of Egyptian young people owned at least one mobile phone.

  • Department Stores & Clothing: Despite the increased competition, the market is far from saturated. Department stores currently target a small percentage of the market, consisting of wealthy consumers constituting around 4.9% of the total population (approximately 3.55 million people). This small percentage, however, still remains significant in relative terms, since it is larger than the entire population of Dubai and almost as large as the population of Lebanon – the region’s traditional retail hubs.

  • Franchising: Franchising has developed extensively in Egypt over a short period, particularly in the fast-food and the garment sectors. The current food franchise market is valued at an estimated more than US$ 300 million. Market sources project the franchising business to continue growing at an annual rate of 10-20% over the coming years.

  • Online retailing: New to the market, but with high potential of growing.

Latest export opportunities – Egypt

Latest export opportunities – Retail

Getting into the market

The Egyptian government has proven its commitment to improving the ease of doing business in the country, which was reflected in recent tax reforms and the cutting of red-tape for foreign investors.

The government is looking to develop an efficient retail environment supporting various sectors of the growing economy. To this end, it sees itself as a key strategic partner in the coordinated development of Egypt’s retail sector and is keen to attract foreign investment to enhance competition and modernize the retail environment.

Main route to market will be via one of the main franchise operators; Majid Al Futtaim (UAE), Al Futtaim (UAE), Al Shaya (Kuwait), Olayan (Saudi Arabia), Amer (Egypt) or Mansour Group (Egypt) among others.

More about doing business in Egypt


Market intelligence is critical when doing business overseas, and UKTI can provide bespoke market research and support during overseas visits though our chargeable Overseas Market Introduction Service (OMIS).

To commission research or for general advice about the market, get in touch with our specialists in country – or contact your local international trade team.

  • Radwa Sultan, British Embassy, Egypt. Tel: +2 (02)2791 6065 or email: [email protected].

  • Heba Mohamed, British Consulate General, Alexandria. Tel: +2 (03)5467 001 or email: [email protected]

Contact your local international trade team


UKTI runs a range of events for exporters, including seminars in the UK, trade missions to overseas markets and support for attendance at overseas trade shows.

Le Marche Exhibition

19 – 22 December, 2013

La Casa Furniture Exhibition

16 – 19 May 2013

HACE Exhibition

4 – 7 February 2014

Note: Dates of events are tentative and are liable to change in case other circumstances take place, so please visit underneath website to confirm dates of forthcoming events:

Useful links

More about OMIS and other UKTI services for exporters

Countries: Egypt
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