Will Saudi shoppers stay online, even after pandemic?

Will Saudi shoppers stay online, even after pandemic?
Debashish Mukherjee, partner and head of consumer industries and retail practice at Kearney Middle East.
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Updated 07 July 2021

Will Saudi shoppers stay online, even after pandemic?

Will Saudi shoppers stay online, even after pandemic?
  • The study found that just 44 percent of those questioned would still prefer to head to the malls to get essential items

JEDDAH: A majority of Saudis have turned their backs on in-store shopping following a shift to online buying during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, a survey has revealed.

The study found that just 44 percent of those questioned would still prefer to head to the malls to get essential items.

The consumer behavior poll by global consultancy firm Kearney also showed that 57 percent of shoppers in the Kingdom believed that the knock-on effects of the pandemic on buying habits would continue for at least another six months.

As a result of restrictions put in place to curb the spread of COVID-19, 73 percent of Saudis quizzed said they had been forced to change their shopping routines over the last year.

And Debashish Mukherjee, partner and head of consumer industries and retail practice at Kearney Middle East, told Arab News that most of them were unlikely to return to their old ways.

He said: “Almost 40 percent of buyers have bought something online, and it’s things like food, apparel, accessories, footwear, things we never thought people would purchase through e-commerce.

“If shopping locations can’t provide something better than deals, such as experience or certain assortments not available online, then these habits (purchasing online) might stay, especially since now people are more educated on e-commerce, it seems that rushing to the malls isn’t their first instinct.”

Asked why they had switched to online shopping, 39 percent of Saudi respondents said it was to avoid contracting COVID-19, while 36 percent put it down to convenience.

Despite the economic impact of the pandemic and the rising price of essential goods as a result of value-added tax (VAT) increasing from 5 to 15 percent in June last year, 45 percent of online shoppers said they had upped their spending on better quality essential food items, with 61 percent opting for more expensive meat and dairy items, and 59 percent seeing increased spending on fresh fruit and vegetables.

Many of the Kingdom’s large retailers saw triple-digit rises in online sales last year. Majid Al Futtaim, operator of the Carrefour brand, reported a 285 percent increase, while the Saudi retail conglomerate said digital sales were up 408 percent year-on-year in 2020. However, Mukherjee pointed out that the big names had done well at the expense of small and medium-sized retailers.

“They were badly hit by this, as the big companies have become bigger, the smaller ones are getting hurt. So, if a small enterprise does not have the skill or capabilities to do well on omnichannel online, then it is getting hustled by the bigger companies in the market,” he added.

On getting back to in-store visits, 46 percent of those surveyed suggested that hybrid models such as click and collect or curb-side pickup options would entice them round to physical shopping, while 27 percent said contactless self-service checkouts may prompt them to return to stores.


CFO of Novatek Firm arrested in U.S. on Tax charges more than $93 million

CFO of Novatek Firm arrested in U.S. on Tax charges more than $93 million
Updated 30 sec ago

CFO of Novatek Firm arrested in U.S. on Tax charges more than $93 million

CFO of Novatek Firm arrested in U.S. on Tax charges more than $93 million
  • Novatek has grown into a major competitor of Gazprom, produced last year, 18.8 million tons of liquefied natural gas, 5 percent of global output
  • The situation has absolutely no effect on Novatek’s operational and financial activities

RIYADH: The U.S. government has arrested Mark Gyetvay, the deputy chairman of the management board of Novatek, Russia’s second-largest natural gas producer, on federal tax charges for more than $93 million hidden in offshore accounts, according to the IRS statement.
 
The situation has absolutely no effect on Novatek’s operational and financial activities, adding that it isn’t involved in related litigation, the company said in WSJ about Mr. Gyetvay’s case.

Novatek has grown into a major competitor of Gazprom, produced last year, 18.8 million tons of liquefied natural gas, 5 percent of global output, WSJ said.
 
The arrest of Gyetvay, comes as Russia wrestles with European regulatory challenges to the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline running along the bed of the Baltic Sea, seen by opponents as a geopolitical tool, Nord Stream 2 will deliver Russian natural gas to Germany, WSJ added.


Japan's SMBC advising on Aramco's gas pipeline deal: CNBC Arabia

Japan's SMBC advising on Aramco's gas pipeline deal: CNBC Arabia
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 13 min 22 sec ago

Japan's SMBC advising on Aramco's gas pipeline deal: CNBC Arabia

Japan's SMBC advising on Aramco's gas pipeline deal: CNBC Arabia
  • A consortium of Asian investors are leading candidates to win the deal
  • The financing structure of the deal will be similar to the $12.4 billion oil pipeline deal

RIYADH: Saudi Aramco has selected Japan's Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC) to provide financial advice to the company in a $17-20 billion gas asset sale, CNBC Arabia reported, citing sources.

A consortium of Asian investors are leading candidates to win the deal, after Asian sovereign funds, primarily sovereign wealth funds from China, South Korea, and Singapore, entered negotiations the CNBC source said.

The American Brookfield Fund, which won the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) gas pipeline deal last year, is among potential investors.

The financing structure of the deal will be similar to the $12.4 billion oil pipeline deal, which was won by a coalition of investors led by EIG Global Energy, the source added.

The sources explained that the deal will be financed using $4 billion of issued shares, while the rest of the deal will be financed through loans from a group of banks.


PIF lender SRC acquires new housing portfolio from Banque Saudi Fransi

PIF lender SRC acquires new housing portfolio from Banque Saudi Fransi
A common residential area built above on the desert near the corniche park in the Dammam, Saudi Arabia (Shutterstock)
Updated 26 September 2021

PIF lender SRC acquires new housing portfolio from Banque Saudi Fransi

PIF lender SRC acquires new housing portfolio from Banque Saudi Fransi
  • It follows other partnerships with banks and real estate finance companies in the Kingdom
  • The company expects the acquisition to provide “long-term liquidity to the housing market”

DUBAI: The Saudi Real Estate Refinance Company has signed its second housing finance portfolio purchase with Banque Saudi Fransi.

The company, which is wholly owned by the Public Investment Fund, expects the acquisition to provide “long-term liquidity to the housing market.”

“We have illustrated to primary originators in the Kingdom the crucial role we play in developing the housing market and supporting their businesses through liquidity and risk management solutions,” SRC chief Fabrice Susini said.

It follows other partnerships with banks and real estate finance companies in the Kingdom, as SRC seeks to promote stability in the real estate finance market. 

“SRC has played a vital role in ensuring that the Vision 2030 housing program objectives are being met and we expect ourselves to play a significant role in this by supporting them,” Rayan Fayez, managing director and chief executive officer of BSF, said.


Bahrain’s Investcorp set to be a $100bn company in 7 years: CEO

Bahrain’s Investcorp set to be a $100bn company in 7 years: CEO
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 26 September 2021

Bahrain’s Investcorp set to be a $100bn company in 7 years: CEO

Bahrain’s Investcorp set to be a $100bn company in 7 years: CEO
  • Although America continues to be their biggest market, Asia is going to be very important in the future Investcorp
  • The company is currently pursuing a five-year growth plan

Bahrani investment company Investcorp has ambitious plans to be a 100-billion-dollar company in seven years, its chief Mohammed Al-Ardhi said, saying the company is currently valued at nearly $40 billion.

“We believe in about seven years we can get there [through] acquisitions, organic growth, joint ventures, [these] are things that we have done and we will continue to do,” he said in an interview with Bloomberg.

“We operate in America, North America and Europe, in the Gulf and in Asia. America and Europe are 80 percent of our markets at the moment,” Al-Ardhi added.

The company is currently pursuing a five-year growth plan.

“Obviously it is about changing our model for many years. We have served the retail investors in the deal-by-deal model. We would like to change that. So, we target sustainable capital, institutional capital,” he said.

“The structure of going private (delisting) is the right thing for us to do now as we prepare the company for the next stage of its growth,” he added.

Al-Ardhi added although America continues to be their biggest market, Asia is going to be very important in the future Investcorp.

“The growth that is happening on the scale that it is happening there is just something you cannot ignore. We started our businesses in India two years ago and in China, we have offices in both of these countries and in Singapore. In China, we have concentrated on the consumer, on technology, on food. In India, we have concentrated financial services on the consumers and health care,” he said.

“We see a lot of growth there and we see a lot of appetite of our investors to actually -whether retail or institutional- to get the opportunities that we can bring in India and China and Southeast Asia,” Al-Ardhi added.


Jadwa Investment eyes luxury Riyadh complex through new $98m REIT fund

Jadwa Investment eyes luxury Riyadh complex through new $98m REIT fund
Updated 26 September 2021

Jadwa Investment eyes luxury Riyadh complex through new $98m REIT fund

Jadwa Investment eyes luxury Riyadh complex through new $98m REIT fund
  • The Riyadh development consists of high-end office spaces, as well as a retail space with a hotel and a gym.
  • The offering is expected to raise equity of SR370 million ($98.6 million)

DUBAI: Advisory firm Jadwa Investment has launched the second offering of its real estate investment trust (REIT) Saudi fund to acquire a luxury retail and office complex in Riyadh.

The offering is expected to raise equity of SR370 million ($98.6 million), which will be used to purchase “The Boulevard.”

The Riyadh development consists of high-end office spaces, as well as a retail space with a hotel and a gym.

Once acquired, the complex will become one of the fund’s flagship properties, representing 13.4 percent of its assets. It is expected to generate a net rental income of SR29.6 million annually.

“We are pleased to offer our existing and potential clients the opportunity to invest in Jadwa REIT Saudi at an attractive price and to gain exposure to prime real estate assets across Saudi Arabia,” Tariq Al-Sudairy, chief executive officer and managing director of Jadwa Investment, said.

The Jadwa REIT Saudi Fund is a closed-end, Shariah-compliant fund with a term of 99 years and total gross assets value of SR2.19 billion.

The acquisition will push the fund’s assets by 16.9 percent to SR2.56 billion.