Afkami, who has been at Arcadia for eight years, leaves today and will take up his new post in a fortnight.
His move is representative of the burgeoning retail environment in the Gulf and other emerging regions where Alshaya runs stores in partnership with overseas retailers.
Afkami said: “I’ve had a great time at Arcadia, especially under [Sir Philip Green’s] ownership, but this is a dream job in terms of international markets. It’s multidisciplinary and multibrand.”
Alshaya operates about 1,300 stores in 15 countries ranging from the Middle East to Russia and central Europe. Its franchises include Mothercare, H&M, Next and Peacocks, as well as Arcadia brands such as Topshop and Dorothy Perkins. Outside fashion, partners include Boots and Body Shop.
Ernst & Young head of retail Gavin George said Alshaya was a “very powerful” retail player, particularly because its big property interests ensured prime positions for its stores.
Arcadia has 420 franchised stores in 30 countries and new markets are high on the agenda. Talks are understood to be under way about launching Topshop in India. Green expects to open a New York flagship this autumn.