UAE’s GMG pursues aggressive global expansion in sports retail


December 16, 2020 | By Shruthi Nair

Gulf Marketing Group (GMG), one of the Middle East’s leading family-owned holding companies, is expanding its global presence in the sports retail market through the purchase of Royal Sporting House (RSH), one of the largest multi-brand sports retailers in Southeast Asia.

Over the last four decades, the GMG Sports division has expanded from a single retail store in Dubai, UAE, to over 300 stores in 18 cities across six countries, becoming the largest sports retailer in the MENA region. The GMG Sports portfolio includes homegrown brands such as Sun and Sand Sports as well as being a distributor for global brands like Nike, Columbia, Timberland, Vans, and more.

Through the RSH acquisition, GMG Sports is increasing its presence in the Gulf and entering some of the largest markets in Southeast Asia—including Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore—as well as Hong Kong and Egypt. The UAE-based holding company will now operate over 550 sports retail stores in 57 cities across 12 countries. This will include more than 1.9 million sq. ft. of physical retail space, 10 warehouses, and employing nearly 8,000 people. With the expanded presence, GMG Sports will now have the potential to reach more than 700 million consumers around the world.

“This acquisition is a significant milestone in the evolution of GMG’s diverse portfolio. As people around the world continue to embrace active and healthy lifestyles, the integration of RSH operations into the GMG network of stores further strengthens our leading position in sports retail across the MENA region, and allows us to reach hundreds of millions of potential new consumers across Southeast Asia, Hong Kong, and Egypt. This expansion is a strategic step in taking our business and vision global”, said Mohammad A. Baker, Deputy Chairman and CEO of GMG.

“Despite the significant disruptions to the global retail industry, the strength and resilience of GMG’s business strategy enabled us to overcome these challenges and double down on our expansion plans. At our core, we are a growth business with long-term global ambitions,” added Baker.

In addition to the sports division, GMG also has a growing presence in other business verticals, including healthcare, food, education, real estate, and logistics. Across the holding group, it has successfully scaled homegrown brands such as Supercare pharmacies, food brand Farm Fresh, and logistics provider Trilogi. GMG has also introduced more than 90 international brands into the Middle East to date.

“As an entrepreneurial business, we always look to where the market and consumers are moving to. We are extremely excited to take our GMG vision and our sports expertise to new geographies, creating economies of scale while delivering additional value to our customers,” concluded Baker.

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