Finland's Stockmann said the Swedish Lindex fashion chain it bought last year is to expand to the Middle East and Russia, with the first shops opening this year.

Stockmann said it planned 25 stores over three years in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, and 50 over five years. The first is planned in Jeddah in September with six more Saudi stores this year. They will cover 400-1,000 square metres in total.

The Finnish group has signed a letter of intent with Middle East franchiser Delta International Establishment, which will carry out store investments, hire staff and be responsible for retail sales.

"The Middle East is a fast-growing region with high fashion awareness and strong purchasing power. Shopping tourism is growing constantly in the region and we're convinced that Lindex's affordable fashion will be a hit," a Lindex spokeswoman told just-style.

All investments will be made by Delta International. "This is an opportunity for Lindex to open stores in an area where it would not be possible for Lindex to establish through wholly-owned subsidiaries," Lindex said.

Lindex, which now represents 30% of the Finnish group's turnover, is also expanding eastwards, opening in Russia this year and six to eight stores in the Baltic countries in coming years. "The most important goal for the coming year is to give Lindex a strong foothold in the Russian market," Stockmann said.

By Simon Haydon.