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New retail chains set to boost Saudi market

Best and e-Max are set to challenge eXtra’s dominance of the Saudi consumer electronics retail sector

In a major boost to Saudi Arabia’s consumer electronics sector, some of the country’s biggest retail groups are planning massive expansion plans in a bid to increase their market share.

ECN can exclusively reveal that Fawaz A Al Hokair Group, which operates the country’s Géant hypermarket franchise, is set to launch a major consumer electronics retail chain known as Best, while the Al Bandar Trading Group has confirmed the launch of its first e-Max store in Jeddah’s Dome Centre this month.The first three Best stores will open simultaneously in Riyadh on August 15, Géant Saudi CEO Mohammed Adil told ECN.

“The Best retail concept will be similar to Best Buy in the US. We have recruited our general manager from France, where he was working for [consumer electronics retailer] Saturn, while our operations manager was previously employed by Best Buy,” he said.

Adil explained that the company planned to open 20 to 25 Best retail outlets in the Kingdom, with store floorspace ranging from 2500 to 6000 square metres.

“We intend to be the largest buyer and seller of consumer electronics goods in Saudi Arabia within two years,” he said. “By 2008, our goal is to be operating around 17 Géant hypermarkets and 16 Best electronics stores.”

Adil said that Best was currently negotiating deals with a range of vendor partners. “We aim to do business with companies that are looking to expand their presence in Saudi Arabia,” he said.

Adil explained that Best also planned to launch its own ‘Gold’ branded range of consumer electronics products, manufactured by OEM partners in China and Korea.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia’s largest dedicated consumer electronics chain, eXtra, recently announced major retail expansion plans, which will see it increase its presence in the Kingdom to 30 stores by 2010.

“We will launch three new stores in the coming months in Riyadh, Jeddah and Al Khobar,” eXtra marketing manager Sherif Tawfic told ECN. “We also expect to launch operations internationally in three to four years, most likely with stores in the UAE, Egypt and Lebanon.”

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