UAE retail giant the Landmark Group is to open another 200 stores in the Middle East over the next twelve months as part of a region-wide expansion plan, its CEO said Sunday. The company, who develops its own brands as well as buying the franchise rights of international firms, will boost staff numbers and retail space by approximately 15-20 percent to accommodate its expansion, Vipen Sethi said.“Expansion for all the brands is pretty much on the cards,” he told Arabian Business. “We are opening new stores all the time. “We have 1,000 stores today, that includes all the retail brands. This is likely to grow by about 20 percent. So [we will open] about 200 more stores.“The number of [new] staff will depend on the size of the stores, but the company grows about 15-20 percent every year. In the Middle East we currently have about 28,000 employees.”Landmark Group is one of the largest retail conglomerates in the region, operating brands such as New Look, Shoemart, Steve Madden and Kurt Geiger.The company has a presence across all categories within the retail sector, and operations in as many as fifteen different Middle East markets. In the year ending June 2011, the firm’s retail segment recorded top line growth of around 24 percent, Sethi said, followed by strong sales during the month of Ramadan. Among the best performing brands are those selling necessities or value goods, including Maxx Fashion, Splash, the Baby Shop and the Home Centre. “We think the market is growing in the value segment,” Sethi told reporters at a Dubai-based press conference. “Necessities are doing very well for us.” As part of its expansion, Landmark will pay particular attention to a newly developed confectionary and savoury snacks concept, Candelite, which launched in February this year. In a bid to tap into the lucrative confectionary market, valued at $127bn per annum, the UAE-based company will plough $100m into the expansion of the brand, opening 50 stores across the GCC countries in the next year. Of these, 23 outlets will be located in the UAE, to add to the existing nine, which take the form of large stores, kiosks and ‘shop in shop’ points of sale across Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Ajman.The UAE stores will need around 700 new employees to run efficiently, Sethi said, with 10-12 staff required per store in addition to behind the scenes workers. In addition, the company is also eyeing the franchise rights of some new international concepts, though at the moment, Sethi says he doesn’t know which ones. “We are looking, we don’t know as yet,” he said.