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H&M to open Saudi stores staffed by women, for women

May 19, 2008 9:25 by

H&M, alshaya, World economic forumH&M, the Swedish retailer, is to open the first women-only department store in Saudi Arabia as part of moves to bring more women into the country’s workforce. The Times, picking the story up from the World Economic Forum in Sharm el Sheikh, says the store, which will be H&M’s first in the country, will be staffed entirely by women in what is understood to be a landmark concession by the Saudi Government.

Hats off to H&M. The store will be run the Alshaya Group, the Kuwait-based franchise holder for the region. Mohammed Alshaya, the CEO, says running the store will be challenging, but “we have to do it as this is part of our social responsibility to women in Saudi Arabia.”

With Saudi struggling to find work for its youthful (and increasingly disgruntled) population, it is the right time for business to suggest solutions. This is not charity by H&M - women-only stores will surely drive sales - but it does have a social benefit. More employment creates more wealth, and raises worker expectation. Hopefully it will be a model other retailers can mimic.

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