New Look and Debenhams are to open stores in North Africa in an effort to take advantage of the region’s burgeoning economy.

Fast-fashion retailer New Look will enter Egypt with Middle Eastern franchise partner Landmark Group and Debenhams will open in the same country with franchise partner Alshaya. Debenhams is to open the first of four stores in Egypt next year.

They join a wave of international retailers that have earmarked North Africa for growth outside of saturated domestic markets.

Swedish fashion retailer H&M opened its first Egyptian store in June in Cairo with Alshaya, while German retailer Metro will open in the city next year. Spanish retail giant Inditex has identified Egypt as one of four new markets that it will target for Zara.

Debenhams international director Francis McAuley said Debenhams will consider openings across North Africa, including Morocco and Libya.

New Look chief executive Carl McPhail said Egypt represented a “very interesting opportunity” and a “gateway to other markets”.

MHE Retail chairman Edward Whitefield said: “The economic explosion in the Middle East is expanding over the borders into North Africa, westwards from Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi and Kuwait and eastwards to Libya.

“It makes sense to put down beachheads in a growing economy if it is low-cost and financed by a partner.”

McAuley added that Debenhams would not prioritise its Russian openings, as the political situation between the UK and Russia sours. This week, BP warned foreign investors in Russia to be cautious, after its boss was forced to leave the country.


New Look has launched an online community called MyLook, which allows shoppers to give feedback to the retailer.

The site, which has limited membership at present, combines a social-networking platform with a market-research tool. Selected customers can post profiles, join forums and collect vouchers for answering surveys, the results of which are presented to the board.

Head of brand planning and customer insight Oliver Lucas said: “We are serious about our customer being a part of New Look and shaping its future.”