Eight UK lifestyle firms on Santander trade mission to growing UAE retail market

  • UAE’s retail market worth $35 billion and expected to continue growing
  • Visitor numbers to Dubai are set to increase from 16 million in 2018 to 20 million in 2020

Santander’s latest trade mission took eight UK lifestyle firms to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) where Dubai was recently confirmed as having the highest international visitor spend of any major global city with $28 billion spent in 2017. The UAE retail market is dominated by Dubai, whose market share was valued at $35 billion in 2017, accounting for 67%. Sales in the Emirates are expected to continue growing by 5.6% a year on average between now and 2021, presenting significant exporting opportunities for British companies in the lifestyle sector.

The companies that attended the trade mission, which was run in partnership with the British Centre for Business (BCB), included textile manufacturer R Sopers, fashion accessories manufacturer Boardman Bros, design company Munro Holdings, garden furniture wholesaler Luxury Outdoor Products Ltd and watch supplier Icon Watches. Santander UK organised a series of visits to local buyers and distributors, with a view to exporting to the UAE and to form relationships with key retailers and distributors in the region. Delegates also visited two major department stores, Le BHV Marais and Galleries Lafayette. They also visited Dubai Mall and met with buyers and industry experts including the BCB, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank and representatives from Expo 2020.

Richard Cuda, Head of Strategic Alliances & International Corridors, Santander Corporate & Commercial, said: “For businesses in the UK’s retail sector, the appeal of international expansion is attractive. The UAE retail sector continues to benefit from tourist spending, and expatriates seeking British brands, as well as being a hub for over two billion people who live less than a four-hour flight away from Dubai. Further, growth in retail sales is expected as the UAE prepares to host World Expo in 2020.”

“It is important to have a good understanding of the local market for any business looking to expand into the UAE. Santander can help SMEs identify the best buyers, retailers and routes to market as we have a strong presence in the region through local delivery partners and excellent local knowledge.”

Helping SMEs to export is a core priority for Santander. The bank's trade missions are unique in the wider SME banking market – Santander regularly and proactively gets UK firms out to markets to meet buyers and network with key stakeholders. Previous trade missions have covered Singapore, Chile, Argentina, the US and Spain, among others.

UK firms interested in intending future trade missions should visit our website www.santandercb.co.uk  or contact International@santander.co.uk.

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Notes to Editors

1 http://www.dubaichamber.com/whats-happening/chamber_news/dubai-retail-sales-forecast-to-exceed-43-billion-by-2021-new-analysis-shows

More information about the some of the businesses who participated on the Trade Mission is included here:

R Sopers 
R Soper, which was founded as a drapery shop in Lytham more than 90 years ago, supplies fabric-based home furnishings such as blinds, curtains and furniture coverings to major retailers.

Boardman Bros
Boardman’s is the leading manufacturer of private label fashion accessories for some of the world’s best-known brands in more than 30 countries. It has evolved from a modest family run business into a design powerhouse creating hats, gloves and scarves.

Munro Holdings
Nick Munro is a British engineer and artist, he is a Master of Design and a winner of the UK Young Entrepreneur Award. Designer of the London 2012 Olympic games silverware and of the Diamond Jubilee Teapot for HRH the Queen and starting to work with UAE hotels including Jumeirah and Marriot.

Luxury Outdoor Products Ltd
Trading as Thomas & Edison, the business holds exclusive licenses for Villeroy & Boch luxury garden furniture, holding the sole distribution licence for the UK, Ireland and the US.

Icon Watches
Icon Watches is a brand of watches which are designed in London and stocked in 200 stores across the UK.

About us

Santander UK is a financial services provider in the UK that offers a wide range of personal and commercial financial products and services. It has brought real competition to the UK, through its innovative products for retail customers and relationship banking model for UK SMEs. At 30 June 2018, the bank has c24,200 employees. It serves around 15 million active customers, via a nationwide branch network, telephone, mobile and online banking; and 64 regional Corporate Business Centres. Santander UK is subject to the full supervision of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) in the UK. Santander UK plc customers are protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) in the UK.

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Banco Santander (SAN SM, STD US, BNC LN) is a leading retail and commercial bank, founded in 1857 and headquartered in Spain. It has a meaningful market share in 10 core markets in Europe and the Americas, and is the largest bank in the euro zone by market capitalization. At the end of June 2018, Banco Santander had EUR 981 billion in customer funds (deposits and mutual funds), 140 million customers, 13,500 branches and 200,000 employees. Banco Santander made attributable profit of EUR 3,752 million in the first half of 2018, an increase of 4% compared to the same period last year.

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