Boohoo has formed a partnership with Kuwait-based Alshaya Group to expand the presence of the British fast fashion retailer’s Debenhams brand in the Middle East.

Alshaya, a franchise operator which currently runs Debenhams stores in shopping malls, will have exclusive rights to operate the stores and a local e-commerce platform in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt, Oman and Qatar.

The partnership will see Boohoo’s brands sold in Debenhams stores from the fourth quarter of this year, and on a new local online platform across the Middle East from early 2022.

The e-tailer’s chief executive officer John Lyttle said the tie-up offers a new route to market for brands within the group while “raising their profile in a growing new market”.

“This is a great step as we progress the integration of Debenhams and look at wholesale partnership opportunities to continue to scale the group.”

Eleonora Dani, retail analyst at Shore Capital said: “While it is still early days in the Debenhams’ integration journey, many brands that Debenhams used to sell are still in the onboarding process and not yet retailed on the website.”

“Therefore, it is encouraging to see the company providing an update on the international state of the business, a sign that commercial partners believe in the group’s strategic plan.”

Boohoo, known for its fast-fashion dresses and going-out clothes, bought the Debenhams brand and website out of administration for £55 million (€64.6m - $76m) in January, after the 243-year-old department store chain collapsed in 2020.

“The Debenhams brand has been popular in the region for a number of years so this is a great opportunity to build on the existing brand awareness, while expanding the product ranges and brands available to customers,” Lyttle said, referring to the Middle East.

In June, Boohoo showed it had weathered negative publicity over ethical failings in its supply chain, reporting a 32 percent rise in first-quarter sales, benefiting from rising demand as lockdown restrictions eased.

News of the Alshaya deal comes days after Boohoo’s online rival Asos announced it had struck a deal to sell a minority stake in the TopshopTopmanMiss Selfridge and activewear HIIT brands to the the U.S. department store chain Nordstrom. Asos bought the brands in March after the collapse of Arcadia.