Muscat: Mars Hypermarket will employ 1,000 people in the next two and a half years at four new branches that are expected to open before 2020.
Watch: Online or in store? What is the future of shopping in Oman?
“Over the next two years, we have four branches coming up in Oman. On a rough estimate it would employ around 1,000 people and it would happen in the next 2.5 years”, said Naveej Vinod, executive director of Mars Hypermarkets, which is feeding Oman’s $4 billion supermarket and hypermarket sales.
The 18 branches of Mars Hypermarket in Oman currently have 2,400 people working for them. “We are very proud; we’ve hired 500 staff in this branch (Al Khoud). The whole of Mars employs 2,400 staff personnel,” he said.
Like other industries in Oman, the retail sector has also been affected by low oil prices and the resultant economic downturn. “For us, since we are growing and have a number of new branches, we have a lot customers coming in. Fortunately, we are not affected in a big way, but indirectly what I see is my customers have started to shop less. For example, somebody who shops for 50 rials has started to shop for 40 rials,” he said.
Hypermarkets, according to Vinod, also help in the overall development of an area by leveraging many other industries around it.
“Every hypermarket that operates creates a real-estate boom around it. It has (happened in Al Khoud). This was a very different location when we came. I see a lot of buildings coming up near and around our area,” he said.
Speaking about the rapid shift towards digitisation that all industries across the globe are adopting, Vinod explained why he doesn’t see too many online hypermarkets coming to the country soon.
“Oman as a market still isn’t mature enough for e-commerce retailing. Maybe it is the topographical and the demographic and the population spread in Oman. This country is different from any other parts of the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council). We have different pockets of villages.”
“Getting to these people through online retail, where the usage of internet is still growing, it is only over the recent past that social media has become a buzz among the youth of Oman. So it will take time.”
Emergence of online supermarkets and hypermarkets can also lead to the death of Oman’s traditional souqs, Vinod feels. “If you have the concept of online shopping, our traditional souq will die. These are things that Oman wants to preserve. If we take away the souqs a lot of Omani businessmen lose their jobs.” He added, “We are one of the biggest purchasers from souqs. We buy from local souq retailers too.”