French books and electronics retailer Fnac plans to open its first two stores in Abidjan, Ivory Coast in the coming months to exploit growing consumer demand in sub-Saharan Africa.
Rising incomes and an underdeveloped retail sector have made Africa an important new destination for retailers and consumer goods companies looking to expand. French companies Carrefour, Casino, Danone and Pernod Ricard have all boosted investments in the region.
Fnac is teaming up with local retailer Prosuma Group to open the two franchised stores between December and February which will sell books, CDs, DVDs, ticket for events and IT and telephony products.
"Fnac wishes to expand into Africa....Entering this new continent through a foothold in a strong growth potential region will open up new growth opportunities for our group," said Alexandre Bompard, Fnac Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.
Ivory Coast, French-speaking West Africa's largest economy, has enjoyed some of the continent's highest growth rates over the past three years.
Investors have taken notice but analysts believe many are waiting to see if a presidential election in October passes off peacefully before making a move.
Fnac, which is already present in Casablanca, Morocco, and in Doha, Qatar, through franchises, is following in the footsteps of Casino and Carrefour, who have chosen to expand in Africa via franchises deals with local players to which they brings retailing skills while keeping investment to a minimum.
Fnac, with 2014 sales of 3.9 billion euros ($4.35 billion), has a network of 189 stores worldwide, including 115 in France.