JD Sports expands to Middle East in first franchise deal

It plans to open around 50 stores under the JD brand over the next five years, in countries such as United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

Henry Saker-Clark
Monday 03 July 2023 09:09 BST
The retail group has launched its first franchise partnership in the Middle East (Yui Mok/PA)
The retail group has launched its first franchise partnership in the Middle East (Yui Mok/PA) (PA Archive)

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Louise Thomas

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JD Sports is to launch dozens of stores in the Middle East in the sportswear retailer’s first franchise deal as part of its ambitious growth plans.

The Bury-based retailer told investors on Monday it will expand into the region through a new partnership with Dubai-based company GMG.

It plans to open around 50 stores under the JD brand over the next five years, focusing on locations in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Egypt.

The move is part of plans by JD Sports to open between 200 and 300 new stores each year over the next five years.

Regis Schultz, chief executive officer of JD, launched the rapid growth strategy at its capital markets event in February.

The boss joined JD Sports last year following the exit of the retailer’s executive chairman Peter Cowgill, months after the UK competition watchdog had fined the firm £4 million after reports of secret meetings between Mr Cowgill and the boss of takeover target FootAsylum.

Mr Schultz had been president of retail for Dubai-based conglomerate Al-Futtaim Group before he joined JD Sports.

“We are very pleased to be delivering this historic deal, the first franchise agreement JD has entered, in partnership with GMG,” Mr Schultz said.

“Through my own career, I have seen first-hand the massive untapped potential for retailers in the Middle East, and I am certain that GMG – with their expansive retail expertise and a local understanding of the customer – are the best partners for us in the region.

“We are excited by the opportunity to explore franchise partnerships as an avenue for further store growth in underpenetrated markets, leveraging the global growth phenomenon of athleisure while bringing our proven proposition to more customers worldwide.”

Mohammad A Baker, deputy chairman and CEO of GMG, said: “This alliance is a testament to our commitment to enhancing the lives of consumers in the region, as we embark on a journey to provide them with unmatched choices and empower their active lifestyles.”

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