The Dubai retailer Forever Rose is to expand into hotels, with the first one in central London, on expectations that tourism between the United Kingdom and the Arabian Gulf region will remain buoyant despite the vote to leave the European Union.
Forever Rose, which is owned by the Dubai retail and hospitality company Al Samadi Group, will invest £13 million (Dh63.2m) in the Knightsbridge hotel, which is housed in a historic building. It will follow up with one in Dubai with an investment of £20m before 2020, and another in Qatar before the Fifa 2022 World Cup with a similar investment. The hotels in the Arabian Gulf region will have between 90 and 140 rooms.
Al Samadi took over Forever Rose, which is incorporated in the UK, in 2014 for £1m, and turned it into a retailer from an events company. It now sells roses from Ecuador, diamond jewellery, chocolates and oud fragrance. It has five outlets in the UAE.
The hotels will be financed internally, said Ebraheem Al Samadi, the chief executive of both Forever Rose and Al Samadi Group. The 50-room hotel in London is expected to open in 2018, and Forever Rose will lease it for 100 years.
Mr Al Samadi expects to open the first UK Forever Rose retail shop in the same location in London in September.
“Brexit won’t affect tourism, and [the UK] is a part of Gulf nationals’ lives,” Mr Al Samadi said. “The real estate might take a hit because a lot of [wealthy] EU people based in the UK might leave because of the inconvenience of exiting and entering, and the rental market will also take a dip.”
Arabian Gulf holidaymakers are among the biggest spenders in London.
Last year, 723,773 Arabian Gulf nationals visited the UK and spent US$2.3 billion, according to the International Passenger Survey data released by the Office for National Statistics in May.
From the UAE alone, 347,000 Emiratis visited the UK, up 34 per cent from 2014. It was followed by Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar.
Those from the UAE spent £487m, up from £437m the previous year.
Forever Rose opened its first outlet on the Abu Dhabi Corniche in 2014. This year it opened at Yas Mall in Abu Dhabi and at Al Ain Mall. It expects to open three more in the UAE this year, including at the capital’s Galleria Mall in September. It is investing $5m for the five outlets in the UAE this year.
It will expand into Qatar in September, and to Kuwait in December.
A Forever Rose cafe is expected to open in Riyadh in the fourth quarter.
Follow The National’s Business section on Twitter