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Thu 22 Sep 2011 01:12 PM

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Landmark eyes new fashion brand in retail push

UAE retail giant to create up to 300 jobs in roll out of 19 fashion stores

Landmark eyes new fashion brand in retail push
Landmark, the Gulf franchise holder of New Look, is in talks with a fourth global fashion brand

Landmark Group is in talks to add a fourth fashion brand to its portfolio, as the UAE-based retail giant gears up to roll out a slew of stores across the Middle East.

The franchise holder of British brands Reiss and New Look said the expansion drive would create up to 300 new jobs in the retail division, without specifying the value of the investment.

“We have 90 stores across the region in the GCC and Egypt and over the next 12 months we are planning ten New Look stores, another seven Koton stores and two Reiss stores,” Miles Young, general manager of Landmark’s fashion division, which is managed by Landmark International.

Budget fashion brand New Look will in October mark five years of Gulf operations. The bulk of the chain’s new stores will be Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi and the UAE’s northern emirates.

“The major of the opportunities seem to be coming through in KSA at the moment. That’s where the greatest investment in new shopping malls and retail space is, so the lion’s share is there.”

Landmark, which counts the brands Babyshop and Shoemart among its franchises, has 900 stores across the Middle East, India, Turkey and Pakistan, and employs over 31,000 staff.

Its retail arm plans to open another 200 stores in the Middle East over the next 12 months.

The company said this month it planned to have 100 restaurants in its food and beverage portfolio by 2015, representing an investment push of AED250m ($68m),

Young said Landmark was also close to signing a fourth international fashion brand, but refused to give details of the deal.

 “We are very close to signing a UK fashion brand which I can’t say any more about as the signing is taking place over the next few weeks,” he said. “At Landmark we are looking to acquire and introduce new brands into the region if they are suitable.”

The company is also planning a new push into plus-sized fashion across two brands, Young said, an area that seen a rise in revenues in recent years. An estimated 70 percent of residents in the UAE and Saudi Arabia are classed as overweight.

 “New Look has a range called ‘Inspire’ for a number of years now and it is about six or seven percent of our business and has really strong elements,” said Young.

“Koton… introduced a plus-size range this season and we have taken it, as we see the potential for our market and it is performing very well.

 “I don’t think [the growth] is specific to the Middle East. I worked in the UK and 50 percent of the business was sizes 14s, 16s and 18s. It is just reflecting global trends,” he said.

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