Saudi developer makes foray in Europe with $320m investment in Irish mall, waterfront project

BE2C2 Report — Fawaz Alhokair Group, Saudi Arabia’s largest mall developer is set to invest $320m to redevelop the Waterford city center in Ireland which includes 17 acres of waterfront land on the River Suir.

The city’s Councilor John Cummins said it was “a once-in-a-century opportunity to transform our city.”

The group through its Arabian Centers subsidiary, will be investing in a mall, hospitality and housing development, following an agreement with the Waterford city council in the country’s south-east, Irish media reported.

“It’s hugely significant, it’s a game changer for Waterford city and has the potential to transform our city in terms of jobs growth, and the huge investment it’s going to bring and the jobs it’s going to bring to our city,” Cummins said.

With negotiations officially starting in September, construction work on the project is set to begin at the end of the year.

Alhokair, who owns the Mall of Arabia in Cairo also plans to spend $441 million to build three shopping centers in Egypt over the next three years.

Closed shops in Waterford City during Ireland's economic downturn / Rolling News
Closed shops in Waterford City during Ireland’s economic downturn / Rolling News

Alhokair’s new mall and will be ready by the end of 2018 with Marks and Spencer believed to be the target anchor tenant, according to the Irish Mirror.

It is envisaged that over 3,000 permanent jobs would be created on the waterfront mixed-use development in addition to 400 in the new mall named Applemarket shopping center (previously referred to as the Michael Street Retail development).

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In a related note, the Saudi retailer has appointed Atul Singh, former President of Coca Cola Asia Pacific region as its new CEO effective April 1.

Last November, Reuters reported Fawaz Alhokair family aimed to secure funding to buy Saudi Oger’s 20.93 percent stake in the Jordan-based Arab Bank, citing banking sources, in a deal likely to be worth around $1.1 billion.

A Saudi-based source told the news agency Alhokair wanted to diversify out of retail-linked assets at a time of slower growth in government and consumer spending as a result of the dip in oil prices.

The firm is the largest listed retailer on the Saudi stock market, and operates more than 2100 stores across 20 markets, predominantly in the Middle East and Commonwealth of Independent States, and has been expanding both on its own and through acquisitions – including the purchase of Spanish clothing brand Blanco.

Alhokair Group’s success have largely been fueled through investments and owning franchises brands such as Zara, Marks and Spencer, Gap , Banana Republic, Nine West, Top Shop, Aldo, Monsoon and Accessorize in the Kingdom.

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