Lebanon-based food retail chain Spinneys — which saw more than 20 percent growth to almost $1bn in revenue last year — is making its next big step when it comes to new markets. Its CEO, Michael Wright, talks new outlets, IPOs, and the future of online retail
Despite fast approaching its 80th anniversary, Middle East grocery chain Spinneys shows no sign of losing its appetite when it comes to new markets.
Established in Alexandria by an ex-British Army serviceman to supply provisions to Palestine Railways, the crisis in Lebanon in the 1970s forced the high-end retailer to pare back its operations, before the brand came back with a bang in the 1990s and 2000s. In the years since, the firm has aggressively snapped up market share in its home turf of Lebanon, as well as moving into new markets including Egypt, Qatar and Jordan.
In his role as CEO, another Englishman is charged with spearheading the brand’s next stage of growth. Michael Wright, who has been with Spinneys for 25 years, says the company is eager to not only expand into exotic new locales, but also offer customers innovate news ways of doing their weekly shop.
“[In] sub-Saharan Africa, we have a lot of interest coming our way, and we also have an interest in these markets,” explains Wright during an interview in Dubai. In the near future, he continues, the company hopes to have opened outlets in far-flung markets including Nigeria, Kenya and Angola.
“[It’s] now at the stage where we’re talking to people and we now have to... take that forward into real projects. We have the same mindset on what to do on general terms but now those terms have to be crystallised,” Wright adds.
Spinneys is also keen to push through deals to open outlets in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq, as well as North African countries including Libya, Tunisia and Algeria.
“We’re currently talking to a big developer in Saudi Arabia, we also have some talks going on in Algeria and Iraq,” he goes on.
For Saudi Arabia, Spinneys hopes to open up ten outlets in major cities like Riyadh and Jeddah in the Gulf’s most populous kingdom over the next decade.
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