Dubai: Saudi Arabia’s Almarai, the Gulf’s largest dairy company, plans to spend 10.6 billion riyals (Dh10.4 billion, $2.8 billion) in capital investment under a five year business plan aimed at boosting its efficiency and expanding its geographic footprint.

The investment for the period from 2019 to 2023 will be financed through growing operating cash flow, bank funding, local and international sukuk programmes, as well as the Saudi Industrial Development Fund and the Agricultural Development Fund, it said.

“Given the persistent challenging economic conditions across the region, the focus on efficiency and cost optimisation measures will continue throughout the plan period to ensure continuous competitive advantage,” the company said in a statement.

Consumer goods companies and retailers in Saudi Arabia have suffered as the combination of the introduction of Value Added Tax, higher energy prices and a fragile labour market have curbed consumer spending. Almarai and other Saudi exporters have also been impacted by the cutting off of the Qatari market as a result of a regional diplomatic rift between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt.

Almarai said its investment will focus on the replacement of existing assets, improvement of production within farms and factories, distribution and transport facilities, widening of its geographic footprint and product innovation.