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Payless Franchises First Stores in Middle East

New shops located in Kuwait and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

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Payless ShoeSource is expanding to the Middle East.

The value chain announced Tuesday it has opened its first stores in the region through a franchise operation with Middle Eastern retailer M.H. Alshaya Co., which operates more than 1,700 stores across various industries for brands including The Body Shop, H&M and Starbucks.

Through the partnership, Payless bowed a 2,368-sq.-ft. store in The Avenues mall in Kuwait and a 2,583-sq.-ft. store in the Sahara Mall in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Both stores are in Payless’ Hot Zone format and will stock men’s, women’s and children’s merchandise, as well as the company’s guest designer collections.

Through the agreement, M.H. Alshaya is in charge of store locations, construction and staffing.

“We are pleased to have such a tremendous franchisee in Alshaya, with its significant retail expertise, infrastructure and deep knowledge of the region,” Matt Rubel, chairman, CEO and president of Payless’ parent company, Collective Brands Inc., said in a statement.

Looking ahead, the company said it will take the franchise model further to open stores in other Middle Eastern countries, including Oman, Egypt, Lebanon and Bahrain. The company said over the long-term, Payless could hit 200 stores in the Middle East.