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Record footfall at Saudi Arabia’s largest mall operator

Cenomi's Makkah Mall in Saudi Arabia. The company wants to challenge Dubai for the title of top retail location in the Gulf Shutterstock/Serajdemha
Cenomi's Makkah Mall in Saudi Arabia. The company wants to challenge Dubai for the title of top retail location in the Gulf
  • Cenomi hails almost 32m visits in Q1
  • Net profit down 53% after write-off
  • Revenues up 1.6% over the year

Cenomi Centers, Saudi Arabia’s biggest mall operator, said on Thursday it had seen record footfall of 31.7 million customer visits in the first quarter of 2024, highlighting the continued strength of the Saudi retail sector. 

Net profit at the company, which runs 21 malls, was down 53 percent at SAR180.5 million ($48 million) after the write-off of a non-amortized financing cost, the company said. 

When adjusted, including taking into account a land sale that boosted last year’s figure, net profit would have risen 78 percent to SAR236.2 million, Cenomi said. 

Revenues rose 1.6 percent over the year to SAR585.5 million. 

Footfall was up almost 8 percent over the year, after a 10 percent increase from the fourth quarter of 2023. Footfall rose by 19 percent to 124 million in 2023, smashing the company’s pre-Covid record of 114 million in 2019.

The mall operator, which is owned by Fawaz Abdulaziz Alhokair Group, wants to challenge Dubai for the title of the top retail location in the Gulf, and plans to add five more locations by 2027. 

Its Jawharat Riyadh mall will include new elements such as 3D holographic projections, food halls with live cooking shows and classes, and communal areas where youth can display art and other projects.

At least 21 top global brands have signed up to open their first Saudi stores in the mall, Cenomi said. 

Despite a GDP contraction of 0.8 percent in 2023 after oil production cuts, Saudi Arabia’s non-oil sector has grown and now forms 50 percent of GDP for the first time, the government said. 

The overall economy contracted by 1.8 percent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2024, though the non-oil segment grew 2.8 percent. 

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