Lulu Hypermarket, a retail chain based in Abu Dhabi, is exploring the Philippines as a part of its expansion in Southeast Asia.
Philippine Economic Zone Authority director-general Charito Plaza said Lulu Hypermarket started scouting for locations in the Philippines.
“This is an opportunity for them to invest in the Philippines. In as much as they would also like to continue importing food from us, they are also keenly looking at investing in food production and bring the produce back to [the Middle East],” said Plaza.
Lulu is the largest retail chain in the Middle East and has 137 stores worldwide.
The top management of Lulu visited the Philippines recently to look for warehouses where they could store and consolidate items the company plans to bring to the Middle East and other countries, according to Plaza.
The warehouse will also serve as a storage of products once the company starts to grow food in the Philippines, she said.
Plaza, who encouraged Qatari investors to explore agro-farming in the Philippines, is set to go back to the Middle East to formalize an agreement with the Minister of Economic and Agriculture and Qatari food companies on food production in the Philippines.
“Lulu is like SM. They have malls and supermarkets. They are now gathering suppliers of vegetables, fruits, processed foods, canned goods that they will put in their warehouse and bring to the Middle East and to their other branches. We are also assisting them by identifying potential agro-industrial ecozones for the plantation,” Plaza said.
Lulu is also keen on importing mangoes and pineapples, but Plaza said the company needed an assurance of sufficient supply for different branches.
Qatar is a major trade partner of the Philippines. Its biggest import is manpower from the Philippines.
Lulu is the biggest chain of supermarkets not only Qatar but also in the Middle East. It has presence in the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, India, Indonesia and Malaysia.
It is currently building the brand in the Philippines and Thailand.