Mohammad A. Baker, CEO of GMG, Regis Schultz, Director of RSH
Mohammad A. Baker, CEO of GMG, and Regis Schultz, Director of RSH, sign off on the deal that gives GMG access to an additional 200 plus store network in Asia as well as in Egypt. Image Credit: GMG

Dubai: One of the world’s biggest Nike distributors, Dubai’s Gulf Marketing Group has acquired Royal Sporting House, a retailer with a sizable presence in the Far East. Through this deal, GMG – which owns and operates the ‘Sun & Sand Sports’ store network – will look to extend its reach into key Asian markets.

The value of the deal has not been disclosed.

And RSH sure has an extensive presence – it runs more than 200 outlets across Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia, all of which will now present GMG with opportunities to go in with Sun & Sand Sports. Coupled with GMG’s 300 stores in this region, the combined network adds up to quite a substantial brick-and-mortar coverage.

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All about geography

“The integration of RSH operations into GMG further strengthens our leading position in sports retail across the region, and allows us to reach hundreds of millions of potential new consumers across Southeast Asia, Hong Kong and Egypt,” said Mohammad A. Baker, Deputy Chairman and CEO of GMG.

“Prior to the RSH deal, our stores had access to 58 million likely consumers in the GCC. With RSH, that access has grown to 700 million.”

Originally launched by Singapore-based entrepreneur Jagdev Singh, Royal Sporting House owners in recent years have included Mohammed Alabbar and Al-Futtaim Group. The RSH name once had particular resonance with golf enthusiasts, but these days it has expanded its base into more sporting lines.


Year in which GMG was signed up as a Nike distributor. In the years since, the Dubai company fast-tracked its way to be one of the brand's biggest partners anywhere

Go ‘global’

“Despite the significant disruptions to the global retail industry, the strength and resilience of GMG’s business strategy enabled us to overcome these challenges and double down on our expansion plans,” he added. “At our core, we are a growth business with long-term global ambitions.”

Sticking with physical

The RSH acquisition represents a significant commitment in physical retail when all the talk swirling around has been about online reshaping shopper habits at a faster pace after COVID-19.

“It’s my belief that being an ecommerce player alone won’t work – we need to have a physical and doctcom presence,” said the CEO. “Our physical stores offer much more than shopping – we have created a model that creates genuine experiences.

“Every business getting into ecommerce aims to have 5 per cent of their turnover come from online – right now, we are well above that level.

“With RSH integrated into GMG, it gives us the reach to create those experiences elsewhere. My ambition is simple – try and be there in every major city in the world. For the time being, however, we will be busy getting ready in the new markets RSH has given us.”

A review of how many of the existing RSH stores will be retained will happen down the line. “It’s a complex deal and takes us into six markets that are new to us,” the CEO said. “We also aim to revive RSH in this region and transform it into a high value added concept. Simultaneously, we will take Sun & Sand into Asia.”

Sun & Sand Sports
GMG wants to replicate its strengths in the Gulf into some of the Asian markets. And using the 'Sun & Sand Sports' label will be how this will be done. Image Credit: Sun & Sand Sports