By Daniel Shane
EXCLUSIVE: Beirut-based retail chain poised to open 10 stores in Gulf kingdom
Retailer Spinneys is to open grocery stores in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait as part of a major expansion drive, its CEO told Arabian Business.
The high-end chain, which is based in Beirut, currently has a network of stores across Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and Qatar, but is seeking to enter a number of new markets, said Michael Wright.
As part of these plans, Spinneys will be open ten outlets in Saudi Arabia over the next decade in cities including Riyadh and Jeddah.
“In Saudi Arabia, we’ve worked with the developer on projects before, so he was very happy and he would like us to come to the market. What we’re working on is to line up the sites and then decide on what kind of investment and structure of ownership to do that,” Wright said in an interview in Dubai.
The company has also this year signed a memorandum of understanding with a partner in Kuwait to open Spinneys’ first store in the Gulf state, which should come on-line next year.
Wright said that the privately-held retailer, which recorded more than 20 percent revenue growth last year and turns over about $1bn, is also expanding its footprint in existing markets.
In Lebanon, the chain has two stores in the pipeline that it plans to open next year, at a cost of approximately $15m, as well as further outlets that are not yet confirmed but “will require a similar kind of investment”.
Wright said that Spinneys has “reached a critical stage” with its hypermarkets in Lebanon and will now shift its focus to filling in gaps in the market in the country with “a very fast roll-out” of smaller stores.
The firm is also planning on a further two openings in Qatar, where Spinneys presently has two smaller stores, as well as another large outlet in Egypt.
The company, which was founded in 1924 to supply provisions to Palestine Railways, is also planning to roll-out online shopping services this year, starting with Lebanon in May and its three other territories by October.
“Because we have a lot more resources in Lebanon, we trial everything in Lebanon and then roll it out to the other countries from there. It will be before the end of the year in all the other countries,” Wright said.
Spinneys also has an extensive presence in the UAE, although these stores have been operated by a third party under a franchise agreement signed in 1999.