LONDON: Arabian Centres, the Saudi mall operator which went public in May, said first-quarter consolidated net profit almost trebled to SR227 million ($60.53 million) as occupancy edged higher across its shopping centers. Revenues increased by about 2.5 percent over the year to SR572.5 million.
The results helped to propel the group’s shares 3 percent higher on Tuesday.
The group said that it boosted performance by offering lower discounts to its tenants which helped to drive rental revenues. Like-for-like occupancy across all malls increased to 93.2 percent from 92.4 percent in the year earlier period. Finance costs fell by about 65 percent from a year earlier to SR73.9 million.
Retailers across the Middle East are coming under increased pressure as more consumers shop online, while at the same time, tourists are spending less in dollar-pegged economies because their purchasing power has been cut by the strength of the greenback. Still, in Saudi Arabia, the under-served retail market is expected to receive a boost from rising investment in the entertainment sector, especially new cinemas.
“Faced with the rising challenge of online shopping, the brick-and-mortar retail segment has sought to diversify its offering to secure its customer base, providing an increased range of leisure and entertainment facilities,” said Oxford Business Group, in a report analyzing emerging trends in the Saudi retail sector.
“The reintroduction of cinemas to the Kingdom in April last year ... is expected to increase retail footfall,” it said.
Arabian Centres, majority-owned by Fawaz Alhokair Group, listed its shares on the Tadawul stock exchange in May — the first to do so in the Kingdom under Rule 144a, allowing the sale of securities, mainly to qualified institutional buyers in the US.
The group aims to expand to 27 malls within four years.