Gap agrees franchising deal to take Old Navy to Middle East

Fashion retail group Gap Inc has agreed a franchising deal that will see the company open Old Navy stores across Saudi Arabia.

Two stores will open – in the Riyadh and Dammam districts of the kingdom – in spring next year, but several more Old Navy shops are set to open over the coming months.

Gap's franchise agreement is with Fawaz A. Alhokair & Co, a company that the fashion retailer has partnered with before to bring 41 Gap and Banana Republic stores to seven countries across the Middle East, North Africa, Central Asia and Caucasus regions.

Robert Frank, executive vice president of Old Navy International, commented: "Entering the Middle East is an important milestone in our strategy to share Old Navy with a broader, global customer base.

"Given the family-centred culture of the region, we believe Old Navy's iconic American apparel and focus on fashion, family and value will really resonate with customers."

Alhokair, which also works with the likes of Zara, Topshop and Marks & Spencer (M&S), said that Old Navy's offering "is just as relevant" to consumers in Saudi Arabia as it is for the US market.

"It is a retail success story that we can't wait to develop and grow here, drawing on our own local market expertise," explained Simon Marshall, CEO of Alhokair.

International expansion continues to sit among the priorities for many UK retailers, with M&S and Whistles two examples of British businesses recently announcing plans to develop their businesses in new territories. Last month, M&S said it will be opening a selection of shops in Finland and Norway.

In recognition of this trend, RBTE and Essential Retail parent company Legend has launched and is now taking bookings for the International Retail Franchising Summit, which will take place in March 2015.

The one-day programme, which will be held alongside RBTE at London Olympia, is designed to provide strategic and practical ideas to help retailers succeed when expanding internationally, via the franchising route.

Executives from Mothercare, The White Company and French Connection are among the confirmed speakers at the event.

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Fawaz A. Alhokair & Co

International Retail Franchising Summit

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