Dubai-based retailer Jashanmal Group plans to expand its business into Saudi Arabia within the next year, its group executive director has told Arabian Business. The firm, which counts Burberry and Calvin Klein in its portfolio, said it plans to focus on growing its retail business in the kingdom before expanding into retail distribution. “We have presence [in] all of the countries in the GCC except for Saudi Arabia. We are also going to start in Saudi Arabia soon - we are going to be involved in something very soon,” said Tony Jashanmal. “In Saudi Arabia if you have to do business today you have to cover at least three main areas so… we’ll be starting in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam all at the same time. It will be both [retail and distribution] but retail is easier to start with,” he added. The privately-owned firm, which develops its own stores as well as buying the franchise rights of international firms, opened its first branch of the US fashion retailer Kate Spade in Dubai on Wednesday. The GCC is fast becoming an attractive region for retailers due to its rising wealth, strong tourism industry and a growing urbanised population. Dubai, which has long been the Gulf’s leading shopping hub, has added more than 1m sq m of shopping space since 2006, and is now home to about 40 shopping malls. Retail accounts for around 30 percent of gross domestic product in the emirate. A 2011 report by consultants Business Monitor International said the UAE’s retail sales would grow from an estimated AED79.35bn (US$21.06bn) in 2011 to AED105.47bn by 2015. Jashanmal forecast double digit growth for 2012. “Last [year] we recuperated from the downturn and this year we’re enjoying the resurgence. I see a good near-term future for the business. We would hope certainly for double digit… and the signs are already good,” he said. “Oil prices are still high. We’re also in India and the Indian economy is also growing. In the areas in which we operate there is a lot of activity going on,” he added.