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International franchise conference returns to Riyadh
Source: BI-ME , Author: BI-ME staff
Posted: Sun February 15, 2009 12:00 am

SAUDI ARABIA. Speakers and exhibitors from around the world will converge on Riyadh from 25-27 May to attend the second International Conference & Expo for Franchise (ICEF 2009).

The event, hosted by the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce & Industry and organised by MARCOM, will highlight new franchise concepts from the United States, Europe, Asia, and Australia, and will address new and evolving topics in the sector.

Chairman of the Board of Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry HE Abdulrahman Ali Al Jeraisy stated: "ICEF has received strong support locally and internationally from both public as well as private sector organisations. ICEF 2008 had proved that, as one of the important business drivers of the region, franchising is a concept that requires further awareness in the Kingdom and also shows strong prospects for further application in the Saudi market."

Supported the US Department of Commerce, the International Franchise Association, the world's oldest and largest organization representing franchising, the Indian Franchise Association, French Franchise Federation and the German Franchise Association and also attracting the support of leading Asian states, ICEF 2009 is considered a vital event for the development of the franchises in the Kingdom and for encouraging the use of the franchise system. Self-employed business people and entrepreneurs are potentially key drivers for a flourishing franchise industry in Saudi Arabia.

The unprecedented global economic crisis has had severe repercussions to the global economies. However, due to the stricter fiscal regulations, the Saudi economy faced a much lower impact of the crisis. Franchising offers a lower risk investment option in comparison to opening a new business.

Al Jeraisy added: "Saudi Arabia's relative economic stability has made it a fertile ground for attracting international expertise and world-renowned brands which is in line with the strategy of the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce & Industry to make Riyadh the capital of franchising in the Middle East. Driving and supporting the growth of SMEs, particularly in current economic circumstances in which people are fearful of investing, is an important element of generating awareness of the advantages that franchising offers to entrepreneurs. It will help strengthen the economy and make more jobs available to Saudis."

Franchising is a critical element in the global retail business and has witnessed remarkable growth over the past few years, particularly in the Middle East where several international companies are looking to expand. Estimates indicate that franchising projects represent 50% of retail business models worldwide with a total value of US$9 billion, 5% of which is represented by the Middle East.

Saudi Arabia already represents a multi billion dollar market for franchising with 800 Saudi companies who qualify become franchise business models and over 200 Saudi investors operating 26 projects worth approximately SAR5 billion (US$1.3 billion)

The conference has attracted a group of international and local speakers and specialists. Keynote speakers at the conference will include Chantel Zimmer, Secretary General of the French Franchise Federation and Michael Isakson, President and Chief Operating Officer of ServiceMaster Clean which is responsible for more than 5,000 franchisees worldwide with sales totalling more than US$1.9 billion annually.

Discussions will raise awareness on franchising in the Kingdom and examine how to select, acquire, and successfully manage a franchise. A panel has also been set aside for a discussion on women in franchising.



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