Clothes giant plans female only store in Saudi

Staff and shoppers will be women only


Swedish clothing giant H-M will open the first major women-only department store in Saudi Arabia, as part of moves to bring more women into the country’s workforce, press reports said on Monday.

"H-M is embarking on an innovative development to open a store with women working in it," the Times quoted Mohammed Alshaya, the chief executive of Kuwait-based Alshaya Group, which will operate the Saudi store.

Only women will be able to shop at the female-run store, H-M’s first in the country, which will open in a shopping mall in Riyadh this year.

Alshaya told delegates at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Sharm el Sheikh yesterday that it will increase the number of women working for his company in Saudi Arabia to 40.

"It will have challenges, but we have to do it as this is part of our social responsibility to women in Saudi Arabia," Alshaya added.

Small female-run stores already exist in Saudi Arabia, but H-M will be the first major retail outlet to be staffed by women.

Franchised stores operated by Alshaya are expected to open in Saudi, Bahrain, Oman and Egypt, the Times said.

The company is expanding rapidly with another 190 stores slated to open this year and reported profit growth of 21 per cent to 9.17 billion Swedish kronor ($1.52 billion) last year.