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Saudi mobile phone giant snaps up CompuME

i2 Group acquires chain of computer shops and announces plans to open an additional 150 stores.

Saudi-registered mobile phone wholesaler, distributor and retailer i2 Group has announced the acquisition of computer retailer Compume through a share swap deal, making the combined entity one of the biggest providers of combined telecoms, digital electronics and IT products in the Middle East and Africa region.

The merger will also pave the way for the creation of multi-concept stores, with i2 planning to open an additional 150 retail outlets in the Middle East and Africa regions in the next three years with a total investment of US$35 million. Additionally, the existing 340 i2 retail stores will be revisited for planned refurbishments to include IT and electronic product offerings.

"This is a momentous occasion for i2 Group as we pursue our expansion plan to be the largest retailer covering 30 countries. Undoubtedly, i2 is the only electronics, telecommunications, and IT retailer with an extensive network that spans across the Middle East and Africa," commented Abdul Hameed Al Sunaid, CEO of i2 Group.

Dikran Tchablakian, who was vice chairman of Compume has been appointed senior vice president of i2 Group and will be in charge of the retail operations. Tchablakian was one of the pioneers of Sakhr, a highly successful and popular Arabic computer hardware and software business based in Saudi Arabia in the mid-80s to early 90s, where over 50 retail stores were opened. He then went on to create Compume in 1998 as the first computer mega store in the region with franchise outlets in UAE, Riyadh, Jeddah and Khobbar, Egypt and Bahrain.

In 2005, i2 and Tchablakian acquired the UAE operations of Compume retail outlets from Compume British Virgin Islands through a 60-40 partnership. Moving forward, the two began negotiations in December 2006 on a share-swap deal wherein Compume would be merged with i2 Group. The agreement was finalised in January 2007.