JD Sports to open 50 stores in Middle East

JD Sports opens 50 stores in the Middle East following a franchise agreement with Dubai-based GMG

  • JD Sports wants to open up to 300 stores per year worldwide until 2028
  • The Bury-based retailer recently said it expects annual profits to reach £1 billion
  • GMG operates the Middle East’s largest sports retailer, Sun and Sand Sports

JD Sports has signed a deal to open dozens of stores across the Middle East as part of its first-ever franchise partnership.

The sportswear retailer announced that Dubai-based wellness company GMG would launch about 50 outlets under the JD brand name by 2028, primarily in Egypt, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

It is part of JD’s larger ambition to open between 200 and 300 stores per year around the world over the next five years and capitalize on the growing athletic leisure or “athleisure” market in the Middle East.

New Partnership: Dubai-based wellness company GMG plans to launch about 50 outlets under the JD Sports brand in the Middle East by 2028

GMG, also known as Gulf Marketing Group, currently runs the region’s largest sports retailer, Sun and Sand Sports, with more than 500 stores in six countries.

The family-run conglomerate initially started as a butcher shop in 1977 and has since diversified into a wide variety of industries, such as logistics, beauty, health, real estate and food.

In sports retail, the company runs seven brands, including cycling-focused Pedaliere and trainer retailer Dropkick, and has partnerships with brands such as Nike, New Era and Jordan.

JD Sports said the partnership with GMG would allow customers to gain “exclusive access” to new equipment from some of the world’s biggest brands, including New Balance, Adidas and Under Armour.

Régis Schultz, the CEO, said: ‘During my own career I have seen firsthand the huge untapped potential for retailers in the Middle East, and I am confident that GMG – with their extensive retail expertise and a local understanding of the customer – are the best partners in the region for us.’

He added, “We are excited about the opportunity to explore franchise partnerships as a path to further store growth in under-penetrated markets, leveraging the global growth phenomenon of athleisure.”

French-born Schultz, 54, who took over last September, is spearheading a plan to turn the group into a ‘global sports fashion powerhouse’ by investing up to £3bn to open a whopping 1,750 additional stores worldwide .

Under his predecessor Peter Cowgill, JD became the UK’s largest athleisurewear retailer through a series of acquisitions, exclusive deals with Nike and Adidas, expansion into the United States and rising popularity among women.

The group expects profits to reach the £1bn mark this year thanks to strong demand in the UK, Europe and Asia Pacific.

JD Sports Fashion Stocks were 0.4 percent lower at 145.4 p late Monday afternoon, but they’re up about 27 percent over the past 12 months.