Like Cuba, Iran has a well-educated population with an unquenched thirst for foreign-branded consumer goods. About 42% of Iran’s population of 77 million is under age 25, highlighting both the current and future potential for the retail and consumer goods sector. Modernization of the retail sector is underway with the construction of shopping malls in Tehran and other large cities, luring the country’s middle class shoppers. Although the retail market is mostly fragmented and dominated by small shops, government cooperatives, and street markets, a few grocery chains have been established, enhancing Iranians’ familiarity with modern format retailing.
European firms are better positioned than their US counterparts to enter a sanctions-free Iran. Total trade between the EU and Iran was nearly $9 billion in 2013, compared with $350 million between Iran and the US. And just four years ago, EU trade with Iran topped $39 billion, compared to $250 million in US-Iran trade at the time. This precedent gives European companies both the practical experience and the networks necessary for a competitive edge over US firms hoping to enter Iran after a deal.”