Chalhoub Group aims to double Saudi Arabia business by 2030

By Kristiane Sherry |

Chalhoub Group The Visitor in Saudi Arabia

Chalhoub Group The Visitor in Saudi Arabia

Dubai headquartered Chalhoub Group has stated it is aiming to double its business in Saudi Arabia by 2030 shortly after launching its ‘The Visitor’ concept at King Abdulaziz International Airport, Jeddah.

In an exclusive interview with TRBusiness, Salem Kaissi, Chalhoub Group Vice President, confirmed his ambitions for the company’s activities in the rapidly developing travel retail market. 

“As we all know, Saudi currently is the driving force of the region in growth with Vision 2030,” he said. Vision 2030 is the Saudi government’s strategy to create an “ambitious” nation. It is widely seen as an effort to boost the tourism industry as it starts to divest from oil.

Saudi Arabia plans to attract 150 million annual visitors by 2030, according to the Minister for Tourism. 

“For us, it is definitely the right time to focus more and more on Saudi,” he continued. “Saudi has always been one of our biggest markets in our group in terms of activity.”

Today the country accounts for around 20% of Chalhoub Group’s fashion retail activity in the Middle East, Kaissi said. 

“We aim at growing the business in the coming few years, eventually reaching around 50% of our overall activity.”

The target is to achieve this by 2030 in line with Vision 2030. Kaissi said it was “committed” to the strategy, and planned to invest “more and more” in the market. 

If the growth could be achieved before 2030 “that would be great”, he added.

Chalhoub Group The Visitor: A Saudi Arabia first

Chalhoub Group entered the Saudi travel retail market on 25 December 2022 when it was awarded the tender to operate the concession at King Abdulaziz International Airport, Jeddah.

It officially opened its The Visitor concept on 1 November 2023, having operated an interim space in the terminal building.

“It’s the first of its kind in Saudi Arabia,” Kaissi said. “I’m sure everyone who has seen it has been very much impressed.”

The 4,000sqm space features over 200 brands across beauty, fashion, accessories, jewellery, confectionery, gifts, and tobacco. 

Jewellery is a key category for The Visitor

Jewellery is a key category for The Visitor

“When we started working on the project, we had a vision in mind,” he continued. “It is to elevate the family shopping experience in Saudi Arabia by bringing new categories, new brands, exclusive brands, and also a unique customer journey.”

Key brands that are exclusive to Chalhoub Group in the market include Dyson, Ray Ban and Dubai-based sustainable clothing brand The Giving Moment. 

Other brands present span Carolina Herrera, Dior, Gucci, Jo Malone, La Mer, and Swarovski.

The store design was inspired by both the falcon and the colours of the desert, both culturally significant in the country. 

Kaissi said that the entire project was delivered in a few short months from being awarded the tender to go-live.

“We spent around two months on the design and getting the approvals,” he said. “The end of June, beginning July we were on site, and we opened in November. As you can see, it was a really tight timeline. 

“We’re very happy and proud of all our teams, leveraging cross-functional collaboration between the different teams to who were able to pull this through and on time.”

Affirming women in Saudi Arabia

Kaissi noted that at present, 80% of the passengers through Jeddah are Saudi nationals. More than 60% travel through business. “The majority obviously are men,” he added. 

Chalhoub Group speaks prominently of its diversity and inclusion initiatives. “We’re very much committed,” Kaissi said.

“We’re aiming to increase our number of Saudi national associates to more than 5,000 in the coming couple of years,” he said. There is a focus on recruiting colleagues under the age of 30.

“We know that a vast majority of the population are young in Saudi Arabia, with 75% of our workforce in Saudi Arabia female associates,” he continued. “These are all the values that we have for incorporating diversity and inclusion in our workforce.”

The Visitor at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah.

Chalhoub Group is aiming for diverse recruitment in Saudi Arabia.

He stressed that Chalhoub Group was providing young Saudi talent with opportunities for growth and leadership. 

“This his has translated into a number of activities and initiatives such as the Women in Leadership programme, in addition to a partnership with the local universities and signing an MOU with King AbdulAziz University.”

He added: “We want to empower more the women in Saudi Arabia, and to have a higher percentage of women in leadership and key leading positions in Saudi Arabia. 

“Today, you know, unfortunately the numbers are not high in general, and we are committed to fostering that kind of empowerment and developing the capabilities of our female associates.”

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