British conglomerate Inchcape has invested US$12 million in a distribution centre at Dubai's Jebel Ali Free Zone, the newspaper al-Khaleej reports. Regional executive director Philip Coshing was quoted as saying the centre, serving Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain, Jordan, Syria and Cyprus, would begin operation next month. He said the group's sales in the Middle East grew 4.5 per cent last year to GBP238.6 million (about HK$3.11 billion) from GBP228.3 million in 1995. Operating profits grew 8.8 per cent to GBP17.3 million. Inchcape runs the largest independent shipping network in the world and represents many of the best-known consumer product manufacturers.