WHSmith is in the process of launching its curi.o.city concept stores and concessions in Dubai and Qatar as the brand makes its first foray into the international markets.
The opening of 17 locations in partnership with strategic franchise partner Al Maya includes two 2,000sq ft standalone shops in Dubai and 15 points of sale within its Borders bookstores.
It follows the launch of the bespoke gifting, stationery and souvenir concept in the UK in the past eight months at locations such as London Gatwick and Bristol Airports, St Pancras International railway station and Selfridges in Birmingham.
WHSmith says it has chosen the UAE as the first destination for its franchise agreement due to high customer demand for stationery and gifting items from local and international shoppers.
The news, books and convenience retailer adds that the launch underlines its international strategy of focusing on new markets and scaling the group’s retail formats.
This month, the company opened a WHSmith outlet in Budapest, Hungary, with five more planned for 2024.
Gavin Wood, WHSmith Managing Director International, commented: “We are delighted to be opening the first international curi.o.city stores and concessions across the UAE.
“Launching curi.o.city to international customers less than eight months after introducing it to the UK really demonstrates how international our focus at WHSmith is today as the global travel retailer – and the opportunity ahead.
“It’s early days but with strong local demand for high quality stationery and gifts we’re going to use all our experience from the first few months of trading in the UK to make sure our stores are brilliantly set up for our customers across the UAE.”