Jan. 16 (Bloomberg) -- Jarir Marketing Co., Saudi Arabia’s largest office supplies and electronics retailer, expects sales to increase 20 percent this year as Middle Eastern consumers buy more smartphone products, its chief executive officer said.
“Saudi Arabia has a fantastic potential for our business and we are trying to accelerate our expenditure,” Abdulkarim Al-Agil said in an interview on Jan. 10 in Riyadh. “We had a big increase in earnings last year due to smartphone sales.”
Demand for retail products has increased in the Arab world’s biggest economy after King Abdullah boosted spending to ensure the population gets a bigger share of state energy wealth as unrest spread across the Middle East. Consumer spending reached a high of 177 billion riyals ($47 billion) last May, according to data from the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency.
Jarir estimated profit increased 11 percent to 570 million riyals last year, driven by demand for smartphones, according to a company statement. Sales increased 12 percent to 4.6 billion riyals as the company increased the number of its showrooms by two to 32.
The shares gained 11 percent last year compared with a 6 percent increase for the benchmark Tadawul All Share Index. Three investors say buy the stock, while 10 recommend hold, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Jarir, with a market value of 9.6 billion riyals, plans to expand its operations in Saudi Arabia and across the Persian Gulf, Al-Agil said at the interview held at his office. The company will increase the number of stores to 37 this year and is considering an entry into Egypt, he said.
The company is also planning to hire more Saudi citizens as part of the kingdom’s efforts to provide work opportunities for its citizens, Al-Agil said. King Abdullah pledged more than $500 billion on social welfare and to build projects to counter unemployment -- about a quarter of Saudis between 20 and 30 are unemployed -- and to build schools and hospitals.
“We have provided jobs for over 2,600 employees, 35 percent of them are Saudis,” Al-Agil said. “This is a high percentage in the retail business.”
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