New retail chain eyes 2,000 ME outlets
Manama, February 25, 2011
The FG4 retail chain, which was launched by Next and George Asda fashion guru George Davies in Saudi Arabia this month could eventually grow to as many as 2,000 outlets across the region including properties in Bahrain.
The project, a joint venture with Saudi retail conglomerate Alhokair Group, has already opened 11 children's wear outlets and will continue to open 15 a week until it reaches 40.
FG4, which is a play on the name of Fawaz Alhokair, the retail conglomerate chairman, George's name and 4 because the chain will ultimately cater 'for' everyone, will then turn to opening lingerie shops, which will also sell abayas targeting young women before addressing the market for women and men.
'I have known Rawaz Alhokair for a long time, way back to my days when I developed the Per Una brand for Marks & Spencer because Alkohair has the M&S franchise here and I have quite a lot of knowledge about the region,' Davies told the Gulf Daily News, our sister publication, from his cell phone as he was refuelling his luxury Cessna Citation executive jet in Turkey on his way to Saudi Arabia to open more outlets.
'We always got on well and when one of the brands he has a franchise for from Britain closed we decided to create our own brand.'
He said that to understand the market you have to understand the country and the region and in putting his designs into action had involved a lot of time visiting Saudi Arabia.
'I even managed to get a meeting with 300 Saudi Arabian women to discuss their ideas about what they were looking for in terms of style and design.
'You can't just do a brand, it has to suit the region. A problem for a lot of retailers in the Middle East is that UK brands follow different seasons than here so that winter fashions that work in London will not work in Riyadh. You need to know the place to understand what the brand needs.'
He said that the recent unrest in parts of the region should not be a problem in developing the brand. 'There are some problems out here at the moment but there are problems all over the world,' he said.
'Back home in England there is a serious financial crisis and cut backs and people are spending less,' Davies pointed out.
'We are looking to build this brand from Egypt to the UAE and even out with the region. We will have to rethink Egypt for the moment but hopefully things will get back to normal,' he added.-TradeArabia News Service