'Share swap' deal sees i2 extend CE retail arm

Saudi Arabian distributor i2 has acquired CompuMe’s UAE operations in a move that will see its consumer electronics retail arm become the most expansive in the region.

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By  Ronan Shields Published  February 27, 2007

Saudi Arabian distributor i2 has acquired CompuMe’s UAE operations in a move that will see its consumer electronics retail arm become the most expansive in the region. The move was announced as i2 declared its intentions to open a further 150 retail outlets across the region by 2010 at a cost of US$35 million. i2 boasts a regional presence of 340 outlets in over 22 countries and claims it is now the biggest sole provider of combined consumer electronics, IT-based and mobile handset products in the Middle East and Africa. The company also indicated that its expansion programme would target African markets, such as the Ivory Coast and Senegal, in 2007. “This is a momentous occasion for the i2 Group as we pursue our goal of becoming the largest retailer in the region,” said Abdul Hameed Al Sunaid, CEO of the i2 Group. “Undoubtedly, i2 is the only consumer electronics, telecommunications, and IT retailer network that spans the Middle East and Africa.” The Saudi-based company announced revenues of US$1.3 billion for 2006, up from US$387 million for 2005, and forecast revenues of US$3.2 billion in the coming year. Dikram Tchablakian, vice chairman of CompuMe Limited, will take up the position of senior vice president of the i2 Group in addition to his current role. The move was agreed in January 2007, two years after Tchablakian entered into a partnership with i2 to acquire CompuMe’s UAE operations. The deal saw Tchablakian control 40% of the business with i2 owning the remainder of the franchise. The ‘share-swap deal’ means i2 will assume control of CompuMe’s franchise rights in the UAE. “This move was originally prompted by i2 seeking to develop its presence in the UAE’s consumer electronics and IT retail sector,” said Tchablkian. He also revealed how some of i2’s primary partners, such as Nokia, encouraged the partnership as the growing sophistication of goods available to the market required enhanced customer service. “A lot of sophisticated goods are coming to the market, this requires the right consumer environment for products such as phones with multimedia applications and e-mail functionalities. “i2 elected to link up with CompuMe given its stellar reputation among UAE consumers. From that perspective i2 and CompuMe are a good match,” he added. Tchablakian will oversee the customisation of the newly planned outlets to facilitate the extended product range. The company has termed these new outlets as “multi-concept stores” which will open across the UAE in 2007.

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