M&S to extend its reach in Saudi Arabia and to Azerbaijan

Alhokair Fashion Retail revealed plans to expand the Marks & Spencer store portfolio in Saudi Arabia and open the British department store group’s first store in Azerbaijan this fall.

Simon Marshall, Chief Executive Officer of Alhokair Fasion Retail, said:

“M&S has tremendous appeal to consumers in all the markets in which we operate their stores currently, and further afield.

Our focus is on driving fast, efficient and profitable growth for their core business and new store formats,”

M&S to expand franchised stores in Saudi Arabia

Alhokair aims to open ten new stores in Saudi Arabia by April 2015, following the success of the opening of M&S’s first stand alone Lingerie and Beauty stores this March. The first two franchise stores are set to open this summer and include a 930 square meter shop in Jeddah, which is slated to open its doors in August and a 1,700 square meter store in Riyadh that will open in September.

Two additional Lingerie and Beauty stores will also be opened in the country this fall, one in Medina and in Jeddah. The company aims to open a further six Lingerie and Beauty stores in Saudi Arabia by the end of this financial year. “Lingerie & Beauty draws on the rich heritage and unique position which Marks & Spencer enjoys within the intimate apparel market – they continue to have the highest market share in the UK, with strong growth internationally,” added Marshall.

According to the ‘Apparel in Saudi Arabia’ country report from Euromonitor International, there is a growing influence of Western culture in the country due to rising use of internet and satellite television, which has led to a bigger focus on Western fashion. Combined with the increasing rates of women’s participation in the labor force, more women are purchasing formal work wear and outerwear, with leading brands in the country becoming more and more international.

M&S to open first store in Azerbaijan

Alhokair is also set to open M&S’s first store in Azerbaijan’s luxury Baku Mall. The 1,700 square meter flagship store will open its doors this autumn and is set to offer the department store full product assortment. “Our franchise partnerships are central to our international growth strategy,” points out Mark Koprowski, Marks & Spencer’s regional director for the Middle East and CIS.

“As one of the world’s leading retail operators, Alhokair offers us extensive retail expertise, local knowledge and access to some of the region’s prime shopping destinations. Through our successful partnership, we’re delighted to continue to build our presence in Saudi Arabia and the Caucasus to bring more of our quality, stylish fashions to customers across the region.”

The franchise retailer has worked with M&S since 2011, and currently controls 19 franchise stores across Kazakhstan, Armenia, Georgia and Saudi Arabia.