Abu Dhabi-based Gulf Capital has acquired a controlling stake in Sporter.com, an online retailer of sports and nutrition supplements in the GCC.

Sporter.com’s operations are located in state-of-the-art facilities across multiple countries, which allows the company to provide a convenient, timely and price-effective service to customers in the Arab region.

Gulf Capital says the company is benefiting from the general surge of online shopping in the Middle East, particularly when it comes to buying sports and nutrition supplements online. The share of online sales of sports and nutrition products in the GCC stands at 7 per cent of the total market. It is expected to grow to 20 per cent of the total sales of supplements in the next five years, in line with the levels in the US.

“The strategic investment in Sporter.com is an exciting one for Gulf Capital as it offers our investors exposure to both the rapidly growing digital economy and the booming sports nutrition sector in the GCC,” says Karim el-Solh, CEO of Gulf Capital. “The e-commerce space in the Middle East is growing rapidly at an estimated five-year CAGR [compound annual growth rate] of 21-plus per cent. Sporter.com has the lion’s share of online sales of nutrition supplements in the GCC and gives us unparalleled exposure to the booming e-commerce and the health and supplements sectors in the region. We look forward to working with the Sporter.com management team and to helping them cement and grow their position as the leading online destination for health and nutrition supplements.”

The UK’s EY acted as financial and tax adviser for the transaction, while the US’ Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher acted as legal adviser to Gulf Capital. Dubai-based Capital Bank Corporate Advisory acted as financial adviser and the UK’s Eversheds acted as legal adviser to the sellers.

E-commerce is attracting growing attention from investors in the GCC. On 10 November, UAE and Saudi investors said they will launch a $1bn e-commerce company for the Middle East in January next year. Known as Noon, the firm is backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) – which has a 50 per cent stake in the company – and UAE investors, led by Emaar Properties chairman Mohamed Alabbar.