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Saudi Retailer Plans to Open 400 Stores

25 Oct 2011 - Saudi Arabia-based retailer Fawaz Abdulaziz Alhokair Co 4240.SE plans to open 400 new stores within the next two years both at home and abroad and does not see demand in the kingdom declining anytime soon, its top executive said on Monday.

Speaking at the Reuters Middle East Investment Summit, Abdulmajeed Alhokair, whose firm has 75 franchises in the Middle East and 1300 stores worldwide, said he expected its growth this year and next year to be stronger than in 2010.

"The Saudi market has not been affected by the crisis in the past and we don't expected to be affected," Alhokair said.

"We don't expect a great effect in other countries either," he added, noting that the company's focus is on emerging markets which are less exposed to the financial crisis than Europe.

While 90 percent of Alhokair's sales are from stores in Saudi Arabia, Alhokair said he expected foreign sales to grow by 30 percent next year as more shops opened.

Alhokair also operates in Jordan, Egypt, Morocco and Kazakhstan, and plans to expand into Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries, aided by a $50 million loan from the International Finance Corporation.

"We will start operations in Azerbaijan next month and in Georgia in the first-quarter of next year," Alhokair said.

The firm posted a 16 percent rise in net profits to 201.8 million riyals ($53.6 million) for the second quarter of its financial year, ending March 30, on higher sales and the addition of new stores.

Alhokair's franchises include international brands such as Zara, Marks & Spencer's, Gap, Aldo, Monsoon, Accessorize and Topshop.

In March, the firm announced plans to set up a joint venture with Burberry to market and sell the British luxury goods group's products. Alhokair will hold a 40 percent stake in the Riyadh-based company.