Al Hokair Eyes U.S. to U.K. Acquisition After Spain’s Blanco Buy

Fawaz Abdulaziz Alhokair & Co. (ALHOKAIR), the Saudi Arabian retailer that owns the franchises for Gap Inc. and Marks & Spencer Group Plc (MKS) in the kingdom, is planning an acquisition in the U.S. or U.K.

The company, also known as Al Hokair Fashion Retail, is looking at three to five targets and aims to close a deal in the financial year that runs from April, Rob Cass, the company’s strategy and investor relations director, told reporters in Dubai today.

“We open a store every 18 hours somewhere in the world, which means that the partner needs to be like-minded with the rate at which we grow,” he said.

Al Hokair, which operates in 20 countries including in the former Soviet states and North Africa, bought Spanish retailer Blanco for 11 million euros ($15 million), Cass said. The company plans to expand the brand outside Spain, adding 50 stores each year through franchises, he said.

Al Hokair, which currently has 1,885 outlets, is also seeking to reduce its share of sales from its home market.

“We’re going to be adding 404 stores in the 2014-15 financial year, 200 stores in Saudi and 200 internationally,” Cass said. “Saudi share of sales has fallen from 89 percent in 2010-11 to 67 percent in 2013-14. We plan to reduce this further to 54 percent in the next five years.”

The retailer expects total sales to surge to 12 billion riyals ($3.2 billion) in the 2018-19 financial year from an estimated 5.7 billion riyals this financial year, he said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Stefania Bianchi in Dubai at sbianchi10@bloomberg.net; Alaa Shahine in Dubai at asalha@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net; Dale Crofts at dcrofts@bloomberg.net Claudia Maedler, Shaji Mathew

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