JD Sports has announced its first franchise agreement with Dubai-based retailer and distributor GMG as it looks to open new doors for business in the Middle East.

JD Sports sign

JD Sports will open 50 stores in the Middle East in its first franchise deal 

The sportswear retailer said the deal is a “significant milestone” in JD’s global growth strategy.

It added that “the partnership will enable JD to deliver on the roll-out of its ‘JD Brand First’ strategy and is a pivotal move in the continued expansion into underpenetrated markets”.

GMG will open 50 stores under the JD fascia by 2028 as part of the 10-year agreement “with a focus on locations in the United Arab Emirates, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Egypt”. 

With more than 500 sports stores, including its global flagship brand Sun & Sand Sports, GMG brings experience in fashion retail to the partnership.

JD Sports announced earlier this year that it plans to open between 200 and 300 new stores annually over the next five years as it expands into markets including Asia, Europe and the Middle East. 

Régis Schultz, chief executive of JD Sports, said: “We are very pleased to be delivering this historic deal, the first franchise agreement JD has entered, in partnership with GMG.

“Through my own career, I have seen firsthand the massive untapped potential for retailers in the Middle East and I am certain that GMG – with their expansive retail expertise and a local understanding of the customer – are the best partners for us in the region.  

“We also know from our love index that, no matter the market, there is a direct correlation between having a strong physical retail presence and popularity and love for the brand.

“We are excited by the opportunity to explore franchise partnerships as an avenue for further store growth in underpenetrated markets, leveraging the global growth phenomenon of athleisure while bringing our proven proposition to more customers worldwide.”  

Mohammad A Baker, deputy chair and chief executive of GMG, said: “We are starting a new chapter in the sports retail landscape by acquiring the franchise rights for the Gulf Cooperation Council region and Egypt for JD Sports.  

“By leveraging our respective strengths and expertise, we aim to revolutionise the sports retail sector, offering a diverse range of high-quality products, exceptional customer service and innovative shopping experiences.  

“This alliance is a testament to our commitment to enhancing the lives of consumers in the region as we embark on a journey to provide them with unmatched choices and empower their active lifestyles.”