GMG, a global well-being company operating leading brands across sport, everyday goods, health and beauty, properties, and logistics sectors, and JD Sports Fashion Plc (‘JD’ or ‘JD Sports’), the leading global sports fashion retailer today announced the signing of JD’s first franchise agreement. With the signing, GMG has set the stage for JD Sports to enter the Middle East market. 

The deal is a significant milestone in the delivery of JD’s global growth strategy announced by Régis Schultz, Chief Executive Officer of JD, at the company’s Capital Markets Event in February this year. The partnership will enable JD to deliver on the rollout of its ‘JD Brand First’ strategy and is a pivotal move in the continued expansion into underpenetrated markets.

Under the terms of the 10-year agreement, GMG will open around 50 stores under the JD fascia by 2028, with a focus on locations in the United Arab Emirates, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Egypt. This is a meaningful contributor to JD’s plans to open between 200 and 300 new stores each year over the next five years.

GMG is recognized as a leading advocate for promoting a vibrant sporting and active lifestyle throughout the Middle East. It is supported by a diversified portfolio of more than 500 GMG Sports stores across seven concepts, including Sun & Sand Sports, its global flagship brand and homegrown concept. With an unparalleled understanding of the consumer in the Middle East, GMG is perfectly positioned to introduce the JD brand to the region, which is home to some of the world’s most innovative and best-in-class shopping experiences. 

A heightened focus on health and wellness, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, has driven strong growth in the athletic leisure market in the Middle East. Consumers increasingly recognise the additional value provided by the latest styles, or sportswear with advanced properties that will improve performance, with a recent report by Data Bridge predicting that the sports apparel market in the region could reach a value of US$23190.43 million by 2029, at a CAGR of 4.8%.  

Strong brand partnerships are in the DNA of both JD and GMG, and the deal will provide a substantial opportunity for JD to showcase its unique multi-brand, omnichannel proposition. Consumers will benefit from exclusive access to the latest styles from some of the world’s largest brands including Nike, Adidas, New Balance, and Under Armour.

Régis Schultz, CEO 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 first-hand 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 partner 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 Chairman and CEO of GMG, said: “We are starting a new chapter in the sports retail landscape by acquiring the franchise rights for the GCC 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."

Building on its solid 45-year legacy as a consumer-centric trusted partner for growth and innovation, GMG has helped introduce more than 120 brands in the markets of the Middle East, North Africa, and Asia, thereby forging long-term relationships with many prestigious international brands. Fundamentally a growth company, GMG's long-term global ambitions are reflected in its ongoing journey to expand its portfolio and double its global workforce by 2025 across its markets.

About GMG
GMG is a global well-being company retailing, distributing, and manufacturing a portfolio of leading international and home-grown brands across sport, everyday goods, health and beauty, properties, and logistics sectors. Its vision is to inspire people to win in ways that make the world better. GMG’s investments span across five key verticals: GMG Sports, GMG Everyday Goods, GMG Health and Beauty, GMG Properties, and GMG Logistics. 

In line with its ‘farm-to-fork’ vision, GMG covers the entire food consumption chain with its state-of-the-art food manufacturing facilities, expanding food retail network, and distribution of popular international brands. The company entered the food retail industry through its acquisition of Géant operations in April 2022. In February 2023, GMG acquired aswaaq LLC, including its companies operating in retail, trading, and properties, positioning the group as one of the UAE’s largest community mall operators.

Under the ownership and management of the Baker family, GMG is a valued partner of choice for the world’s most successful and respected brands in the well-being sector. Working across the Middle East, North Africa, and Asia, GMG has introduced more than 120 brands into its markets. These include notable home-grown brands such as Sun & Sand Sports, Dropkick, Supercare Pharmacy, Farm Fresh, Klassic, and international brands like Nike, Columbia, Converse, Timberland, Vans, Mama Sita’s, and McCain.

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