Spinneys eyes 16 stores in MidEast expansion spree

Supermarket chain hopes to resurrect projects in protest-hit Syria, Tunisia and Libya
Spinneys eyes 16 stores in MidEast expansion spree
A number of Gulf supermarket chains have rolled out significant expansion plans this year
By Elizabeth Broomhall
Sun 30 Oct 2011 12:22 PM

Spinneys Group, the Middle East supermarket chain, plans to open 16 stores across the region by 2013 under an aggressive expansion drive, the company’s CEO told Arabian Business.

The retailer plans to launch supermarkets in Qatar, Lebanon, Egypt and debut in the Jordanian market, said CEO Michael Wright, and is eyeing new opportunities in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

The brand also hopes to resurrect developments in Arab Spring countries Syria, Tunisia and Libya, once the political situation stabilises.

“The penetration of modern retailing into the grocery business is still low by international standards, so there is still great potential in some of these markets,” said Wright.

“Some markets are a bit more saturated than others, but still across the region it goes from low level to almost non-existence in countries like Libya, so the potential for the trade is very high.”

A number of Gulf supermarket chains have rolled out significant expansion plans this year as they battle for a larger slice of the region’s retail market.

Géant, the French hypermarket chain, said in September it planned to open 35 new stores across the Gulf within the next three years, as it moves to expand its brand through smaller, residential locations.

Carrefour said in July it would open four ‘Express’ convenience stories in the UAE by the year-end, while Lulu Hypermarket Group said it was planned to roll out 50 local stores across the Gulf over the next three years.  

Spinneys is unlikely to follow the industry trend that has seen large retailers move towards smaller grocery stories and away from large-scale hypermarkets, Wright said.

 “At the moment we are focused on bigger stores. The problem with smaller stores is that you need a large number of them for them to be viable,” he said.

“Also, typically the move to the smaller stores is when the market for larger stores has become saturated, but in most of the markets we are looking into, the opportunities in the large and mid-range are still enormous.”

Spinneys Group, which is distinct from UAE franchise Spinneys Dubai, operates seven outlets in Lebanon, three in Egypt and one in Qatar. Its first Jordan outlet is expected to open this month, with a further three under construction in Lebanon and slated to open in 2012.

By 2013, five more stores will launch in Egypt and further five in Qatar - most of which are underway, Wright said.

“We don’t know the number of stores [for Saudi and Kuwait] yet, but they’re definitely markets that we believe have great opportunities for Spinneys,” he said. “I would imagine our first entries into these markets will be in 2013.”

Spinneys Dubai said in July would open three new stores before the end of the year.

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