JEDDAH: Saudi consumers have become more loyal toward domestic brands during the pandemic, Marwan Moukarzel, CEO of leading retailer Fawaz Alhokair Co., has said.
Speaking during a virtual discussion at the Retail Leaders Circle summit on Tuesday, Moukarzel, who oversees 1,100 stores across 100 malls in 13 countries, told delegates that Saudi consumers are demanding more brands that are “Saudized, experiential and different.” As a result of this change in demand, Alhokair is planning to introduce new concepts and brands in the entertainment, electronics, food and beverage (F&B) and cosmetic sectors this year.
Earlier this month, Moukarzel told Arab News that the company was moving forward with an ambitious expansion plan to open about 57 new F&B outlets in the next 12 to 16 months, and at least another 50 new retail stores. He told the summit that Alhokair will launch a new Saudi F&B concept by the end of this year named Kashkool, which will offer a wide range of cuisines.
Kashkool, designed for a 15,000-square-meter store, will include in-store food stations for consumers. “Saudis love brands with a Saudi twist,” Moukarzel said. His comments come days after business leaders were urged to join the new “Made in Saudi” program, which was launched on Sunday to promote national products and services, and boost the Kingdom’s exports. In a virtual event on Sunday to launch the program, Bandar bin Ibrahim Al-Khorayef, the Saudi industry minister, said the initiative looks to develop “a culture of loyalty to the national product.”
Speaking at the same event, PwC Middle East consumer markets leader Norma Tak presented a report that showed that, despite the growth in online shopping in the region, Middle East consumers are far more likely to visit shopping malls than consumers in other regions.
The results prove that mobile and store shopping are here to stay.
However, healthier and sustainable options are also becoming more attractive to consumers, with 70 percent of Middle East shoppers saying that they buy from environmentally conscious companies.