Truck waiting time on King Fahd Causeway to be cut from four hours to 20 minutes

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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - DUBAI: Saudi retail conglomerate Fawaz Abdulaziz Alhokair Co. (Alhokair) is moving forward with an ambitious expansion plan, aiming to open around 57 food and beverage outlets in the next 12 to 16 months, and at least another 50 retail stores in the fashion, cosmetics, beauty and sports sectors, the company’s CEO told Arab News.

“We are always exploring every interesting brand that has a future potential, ‘omni-chanellable,’ ‘Instagramable,’ and has a potential in the Saudi market,” Marwan Moukarzel, CEO of Alhokair, told Arab News, adding that he aims to add another two or three international brands in the coming weeks.

During the last 12 months, Alhokair added brands like Kiko in the cosmetics space and Decathlon in sports and leisure space. The first Decathlon store in Saudi Arabia will be a 3500 square meter store at the Mall of Arabia in Jeddah.

With their financial year starting in April, Moukarzel said it will be a year focused on getting back to normal, “slowly but surely” after the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

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“With Ramadan around the corner and restrictions lifted recently, we can only be optimistic about the future,” he added. “It would be interesting to see how fast the market goes back to normal,” he said, adding that Saudi Arabia was set for “an amazing growth story.”

Alhokair acquired the Saudi rights for ten international F&B brands from Food and Entertainment Company Ltd. for SR340 million ($90.67 million) over a year ago. “This gives us a new angle to the business and diversifies our focus…. We are also looking at adding more F&B exciting concepts into our portfolio,” he added.

Alhokair is also moving into the digital sector and announced earlier this month it had partnered with shopping center operator Arabian Centers Company (ACC) to acquire a majority stake in UK-based e-commerce platform Vogacloset, in a deal worth SR68.85 million.

Its online business has seen strong growth and in its full year report for 2020, it reported a 311 percent surge in online activity in the first quarter of 2021, compared to the fourth quarter of 2020.

Formed in 1990, Alhokair operates 1,580 stores across around 100 shopping malls in 13 countries, employing more than 10,000 people and representing 81 brands, spanning womenswear, menswear, kids and baby, department stores, shoes and accessories, cosmetics and coffee shops.

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