FAS Labs, a franchise retailer in Saudi Arabia owned by Fawaz Abdulaziz Alhokair, and Arabian Centres Company (ACC), the owner, developer and operator of lifestyle shopping centres in Saudi Arabia, have entered into a partnership with valU, the buy-now, pay-later fintech platform.
The agreement will accelerate the geographical expansion of valU and provide digital consumer finance solutions in Saudi Arabia through FAS Finance.
The partnership agreement will also result in FAS Finance being owned by FAS Labs (65%) and valU (35%).
FAS Labs was recently established to lead the joint digital initiatives of Alhokair and ACC, offering Saudi customers a range of accessible and customisable digital consumer finance solutions, to build and scale a fully integrated shopping platform that engages consumers throughout the entire purchase journey, from pre-purchase to post-purchase.
ValU will expedite FAS Finance’s ability to develop and scale a fully integrated shopping platform leveraging accessible digital financing solutions. In Saudi Arabia, the solutions will be available across Alhokair’s retail network of more than 1,000 stores, as well as online on Vogacloset and the monobrand websites, including 14 in Saudi Arabia. It will also extend to other vendors, retail networks, and merchants to include and cover the entire Saudi market.
Mohamad Mourad, MD of ACC and interim CEO of Alhokair, said: “Arabian Centres and Alhokair share a pioneering history and a strong team with longstanding partnerships contributing to a robust retail footprint in Saudi Arabia. The launch of FAS Finance and the strategic partnership with valU are perfectly aligned with our commitment to drive a robust omnichannel experience. Through the integration of innovative payment solutions, we offer greater affordability and value for our customers, all available through one digital platform. In addition, our tenants have access to added value and benefits through this cohesive purchase platform.”
The solutions will also be offered to ACC’s tenants, located across 21 shopping malls in 11 major cities in the kingdom.
For valU, the strategic partnership marks an important milestone, supporting its strategy to expand its customer base by entering new markets. Saudi Arabia will be the first market that valU enters outside of Egypt.
“We are honored to be partnering with Alhokair and ACC as part of our strategy to expand our product offering in new markets,” said Karim Awad, group CEO of EFG Hermes Holding.
“EFG Hermes has been in the Saudi Arabian market since 2007 offering brokerage, research, and advisory services, this is a market we are committed to acting as catalysts for wider change within our industry. We are proud to have grown a strong brand like valU that offers finance solutions that directly feed into elevating consumers’ lifestyles. We believe that the partnerships we have forged and continue to initiate change and actively contribute to the future prosperity of both business and society,” added Awad.
FAS Labs obtained preliminary approval to establish FAS Finance as a Shariah-compliant digital consumer finance company from the Saudi Central Bank in January. The final approval and the change in ownership of FAS Finance (previously wholly-owned by FAS Labs) remain subject to final approvals by the regulatory authorities: Saudi Central Bank, Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Investment, and General Authority for Competition.
“We are delighted to enter this strategic partnership. valU has retained its position as the market leader in BNPL solutions in the MENA region and Alhokair choosing us further cements this. valU’s launch in Saudi Arabia comes as a natural progression of our strong partnership with Alhokair and is our first move outside of Egypt with other similar moves to follow soon. We will also be utilising our extensive network that we have built with valU for brands that have presence in the Saudi market and extending our services to include them” said Walid Hassouna, CEO of the Non-Bank Financial Institutions (NBFI) platform at EFG Hermes Holding and CEO of valU.
“We are thrilled to be issuing cash loans for the first time which will complement our BNPL solution offering. With valU being a platform through which consumers can seamlessly access financing solutions across various sectors, we serve as a conduit enhancing affordability. We pride ourselves in creating solutions that help our clients enrich their lifestyle every day, from shopping to education to sports to entertainment to travel and more,” concluded Hassouna.