French department store chain Galeries Lafayette has signed a partnership agreement with Aksal which gives the Moroccan retail group exclusive operating rights to its brand in Morocco.

The agreement makes provision for a 13,000 square metre three-storey Galeries Lafayette store in Casablanca as part of Aksal's 'Morocco Mall' retail complex.

The Morocco Mall project is due to open towards the end of 2010, and is attracting just under EUR200m (US$253.46m) from investors.

Founded in 2002, Aksal currently franchises for Limited Brands (La Senza) and Inditex (Zara, Zara Home and Massimo Dutti).

Galeries Lafayette opened a store in Casablanca, the former French colony's economic capital, in the 1920s but it was closed more than 35 years ago.

The chain is aiming to generate an annual turnover of around EUR50m at the new store.

By Stuart Todd.