“Our licensing arrangement for this location expires in the fall and we will be closing the store on Aug. 31,” the retailer said.
Bur Juman Centre was a sought-after location when the retailer opened the Saks unit in the port city in 2005. One of Dubai’s first shopping malls, Bur Juman Centre bowed in 1992. With nearly 1 million square feet, the center boasts a Carrefour hypermarket and a 14-screen VOX Cinemas multiplex, along with luxury and high-street retailers such as Louis Vuitton, Dior, Prada, Hermès, Versace, Zara, Diesel and Massimo Dutti. Eateries include everything from Dunkin’ Donuts and Subway to an Osteria Restaurant. Double-decker buses unload tourists in front of the Bur Juman entrance.
But since Saks opened, other newer retail developments have been built, siphoning traffic from Bur Juman.
While there is a large supply of retail real estate on the market, two malls in Dubai dominate: Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates. Rent at those centers is high. The wait list to enter the world’s biggest mall, Mall of the Emirates, remains long despite stagnating sales in 2015 and rent increases of 26 percent.
Saks said there were no plans at the moment to open a new location in Dubai. A 15,000-square-foot men’s store that opened in 2008 at the Walk at the Jumeirah Beach Residences was shuttered in 2010, prior to the acquisition of Saks Fifth Avenue by Hudson’s Bay Co., the retailer’s current owner.
Saks’ decision comes as the UAE economy is slowing. Three years ago, the retail market grew by double digits. However, the heated pace that foreign brands entering the market came to expect is flattening out. The UAE retail market is expected to be valued at $53.7 billion in 2016, up 7 percent over 2015, a lower rate compared to 8 percent projected for 2015, according to Euromonitor International.
The upcoming closure of the Dubai store isn’t the first time the retailer has shuttered a unit in the Middle East. Saks in 2012 closed a licensed store in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia after more than a decade. The 65,000-square-foot store was owned by HRH Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, and located in The Kingdom Centre, Saudi Arabia’s largest fashion retail complex.