Toy retailer The Entertainer will launch its first overseas store in Dubai this year as it inks a 45-store franchise deal in the region.

The Entertainer has signed an agreement with franchisee Al Owais Enterprises to open its first store in the Al-Ghurair Shopping Centre in Deira, Dubai in December in time for peak Christmas trading. Al Owais will open another 44 stores over the next five years in the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

The Entertainer, which operates nearly 90 UK stores, has been searching for the right location for its first international store since November last year.

It initially expected to open in Pakistan this summer but chief executive Gary Grant said these plans had “not really progressed”.

“The markets are so much bigger in the Middle East,” he said. “We want to get it right so all our resources are being poured into getting the franchise model right. In Al Owais we believe we have a partner who meets all of our requirements. It is a long-established and successful business in the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council], operating across multiple sectors.

“Just as importantly, it shares The Entertainer’s entrepreneurial outlook and drive to constantly innovate. We are excited about working with it to build the best-loved toy shop chain in the Middle East.”

Al Owais Enterprises executive chairman Mohammed Al Owais said: “We believe there is a place in the market for a toy retailer who offers quality products and gives everyday value for money to its customers.”

The Entertainer was advised on the deal by law firm Dentons.

In addition, The Entertainer is continuing to invest in its website to add better functionality. Grant added that there has been “huge” interest in its super-quick Shutl delivery service that it introduced in March.

The Entertainer generated pre-tax profits of £5m in its audited results for the year to February 2, 2013, against £1.3m in 2012.