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Alhokair’s acquisition trail targets retailers

Saudi franchisee and mall developer Alhokair is on the acquisition trail with a war chest of cash to buy a fashion retailer.
President Dr Abdulmajeed A Alhokair told Drapers that buying into a brand or a retailer was a logical next step for the business, which represents more than 28 fashion retailers in Saudi Arabia and North Africa.

He said: “We are looking at businesses that have a good solid management and prospects for growth and, unlike venture capitalists, we are not necessarily looking for a three- to five-year exit. The business is cash rich and it makes sense to invest in an industry that we understand and can help add value to.”

Alhokair is a public company on the Saudi Arabian stock exchange. It owns and runs 11 shopping centres and its fashion retail division runs 40 franchises with a total of 700 stores and sales of US$395 million (£200m) and pre-tax profits of US$69m (£35m) last year.
Its retail customers include Zara owner Inditex, La Senza, Wallis, Gap and Banana Republic in Saudi.

Alhokair’s real estate division plans to open another 12 shopping centres in the next five years. This will include a move into the North African retail market with the first of a series of shopping centres in Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria.

The first will be in Egypt, where the business is building a three million sq ft Mall of Arabia in Cairo, at a cost of US$600m (£305m) to open next spring. It will include a ski village, a hypermarket and two multiplex cinemas.

Speaking in Barcelona at the World Retail Congress last week, Abdulmajeed A Alhokair said: “Egypt is an undeveloped retail market, like Saudi 10 years ago. It has 70 million people and a young demographic which is starved of good quality retail.

“In Saudi we built our first mall in 2004 and now we have 11 shopping centres. There is similar growth potential in North Africa.”

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