x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Landmark may list on Saudi exchange

The Dubai retail conglomerate is considering an initial public offering (IPO) on the Saudi Arabian stock exchange next year,

Landmark Group, the Dubai retail conglomerate, is considering an initial public offering (IPO) on the Saudi Arabian stock exchange next year, says Micky Jagtiani, the company's chairman and owner.

A share sale in the kingdom by the retail group, which has brands including Home Centre, babyshop and ecco, would mark the first time a foreign company has listed there.

Vipen Sethi, the chief executive of Landmark, said the company was looking to list in Dubai and India at a later date but was in discussion to offer shares to investors on the Saudi exchange first.

"It makes sense from our point of view," said Mr Sethi. "Bigger investor base, bigger market."

It is the latest expansion move by the group, which owns more than 900 stores across the Middle East. This month Landmark bought the regional franchise rights for Fitness First from Saudi Arabia's Al Hokair Group for an undisclosed price. Last month Landmark's subsidiary C1 Acquisitions bought the UK restaurant chain Carluccio's for £90.3 million (Dh523.3m).

Mr Jagtiani also said the company plannedup to three acquisitions worth about US$1bn (Dh3.67bn) next year. He added that Landmark was also keen to buy a garment firm in London but could not disclose its identity because it is a public company.

Mr Jagtiani was linked to a bid for Debenhams, in which he already has a stake of about 7 per cent stake. But he said the UK fashion retailer was too expensive.

"I can't afford it," he said on the sidelines of a Landmark event in Dubai. "If I could, maybe I would do it."

The group, however, has been investing heavily in growth. This year, Landmark announced its $150m expansion of its store network across the Middle East over the next three years. And yesterday the group spent Dh22m to relaunch its loyalty card programme, now called Shukran, or "thank you" in Arabic.

The group also plans to open 100 stores and expand its workforce between 15 per cent and 20 per cent over the next year, said Mr Sethi.

Landmark is also aiming for 20 per cent sales growth for this year and next, up from the $3.2bn it achieved last year.

"The downturn has affected everyone in the market but it has affected us a little bit less," said Mr Sethi.

"Being in the mid-market segment, we cater to the bulk of the market."