A Dubai success story – from humble Dubai Creekside shipping agent to one of the world’s leading independent beverage distributors

Closes its centennial celebrations with world record travel retail sale

Next phase of expansion to continue focus on emerging markets, announces Seychelles deal

December 2016. Maritime & Mercantile International (MMI), the number one beverage supplier to hotels, restaurants and bars in the UAE and Oman, closes this year celebrating the remarkable milestone of its centennial year of operation in Dubai.

MMI began as a humble Dubai Creekside shipping agent in 1916 and has since contributed to the rise of Dubai as one of the world’s most exciting and vibrant cities.  MMI has grown into one of the leading independent beverage distributors in emerging markets, successfully expanding its import/wholesale network to encompass 42 countries in the Middle East, Asia Pacific and Africa.

As well as a remarkable milestone in its own right, 2016 has been a year of great achievements for MMI most recently a record-breaking US$500,000 travel retail sale of a collection of The Macallan whiskeys at MMI’s luxury wine and spirit retailer, Le Clos, as well as the signing of MMI’s latest deal to expand into the Seychelles. This agreement delivers MMI’s vision to expand into new emerging markets, where there are growing hospitality sectors that are reaching their tipping point in regards to demand for premium imported beverages. As part of its strategic expansion plan MMI has identified new markets where it can offer credibility and stability to its brand partners in addition to supporting local partners where MMI’s industry expertise and world-class supply chain and logistics solutions provide security and transparency. This is demonstrated as MMI proudly represents 70% of the world’s 50 most admired brands and has a vast brand portfolio that includes a wide range of products from over 600 producers – 15 of the world’s top 20 wines and seven of the world’s top 10 spirits.*

Commenting on the landmark achievement, Andrew Day, Group Chief Executive Officer, MMI and ELR said: “As a 100% Emirati-owned company, and with the same pioneering spirit born from a history stretching back over 100 years, MMI shares Dubai’s ambition and are proud to have developed along with our exciting city. Through commitment to service, expertise and quality, we ensure residents and visitors to Dubai receive a world-class welcome and an exceptional experience. We are delighted to have helped our hospitality partners in placing Dubai firmly on the map as a truly world-class destination. From our humble beginnings and with Dubai as our launch-pad we have taken our story across the Gulf, Africa and onto South East Asia with the goal of being the leading independent premium beverage distributor in emerging markets.”

As Gray Mackenzie in 1916, the company received its first office lease which was personally signed by then Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Saeed Bin Maktoum Al Maktoum, and gave MMI one of the earliest PO Boxes – PO Box 70. Over the years, Gray Mackenzie heavily contributed to commercial trading in Dubai including being appointed to manage and operate Port Rashid in 1970, which helped to lay the foundation of modern Dubai’s ‘open for business’ philosophy.

In 1983, due to government legislation, Gray Mackenzie officially changed its name to Maritime & Mercantile International (MMI) to reflect its trade, where it began its journey to play a key role in redefining and providing world-class hospitality to help drive Dubai’s growth. Highlights over the next 30 years included acquiring the first international franchise of Costa Coffee which opened in Dubai in 1999, becoming a subsidiary of the prestigious Emirates Group in the year 2000, and establishing Emirates Leisure Retail (ELR) to manage and operate Emirates’ hospitality interests (restaurants, cafés and bars) – which today has more than 270 outlets across three continents, with a further 10-plus outlets scheduled to open in 2017-2018 at the new Abu Dhabi Midfield Terminal and Singapore’s Changi Airport.

In 2008, MMI wanted to raise the bar even further in wine and spirits retailing and developed the award-winning Le Clos retail concept, changing the game in fine wine and airport retailing by bringing the most extensive collections to consumers. After just eight short years, Le Clos celebrated the opening of its outlet at Dubai Airport, launched a successful online store and broke its own travel retail record with a US$500,000 single transaction in December.

Throughout 2016 MMI has reached other notable milestones including opening its fiftieth retail outlet in the Arabian Peninsula, and following its most recent expansion into India and Ethiopia, MMI draws to a close its centennial year securing a new joint venture in the Seychelles with imminent news to follow.

Commenting on MMI’s future plans Day added “MMI remains united in the vision of the promotion and prosperity of the UAE and we will continue to work with our key partners to continually develop Dubai as a world-class hospitality destination.  As we continue to expand we will work with those trusted brand and local partners bringing our expertise and knowledge gained over the past 100 years to driving growth in key emerging markets.”