MH Alshaya Co, the Kuwait-based retail franchise operator, said on Monday it had signed an exclusive partnership agreement with Japan\'s Muji. Under the agreement, Alshaya will bring the household and lifestyle brand to the Middle East, it said in a statement. The first Muji store is expected to open in the Middle East later this year, it added. Muji (Mujirushi Ryohin) is a Japanese retailer that sells a wide variety of household and consumer goods including clothes, home furnishings, cosmetics, travel accessories, stationery and gift items. With nearly 500 stores across Japan, Asia, Europe and the USA, Muji is characterised by its design simplicity and minimal packaging. Commenting on the new partnership, Muji\'s chairman, Tadamitsu Matsui, said: \"We are delighted to be partnering with the Middle East\'s leading retail franchiser to bring Muji to new consumers in the Middle East.\" Mohammed Alshaya, executive chairman of MH Alshaya Co added: \"Muji is an iconic retail brand that has global appeal for its innovative store concept and product range. \"We believe its unique proposition will have strong customer appeal here in the Middle East and look forward to opening the first store at The Avenues in Kuwait later this year.\" Muji sells more than 7,000 products and employs over 4,500 staff. MH Alshaya Co operates over 55 of the world\'s most recognised retail brands, including Starbucks, H&M, Mothercare, Debenhams, American Eagle, Pottery Barn, and Boots. In January, the UK unit of Alshaya said it had reached agreement to buy troubled lingerie chain La Senza out of administration. Financial details of the transaction to buy 60 of La Senza\'s stores were not disclosed but was part of Alshaya\'s plans to invest around £100m in the UK retail sector over the next two years.