Waitrose Bahrain forced to close stores

High-end supermarket chain shuts its six Bahraini stores as franchisor goes into liquidation
Waitrose Bahrain forced to close stores
By Courtney Trenwith
Fri 24 Jan 2014 02:56 AM

UK supermarket chain Waitrose has closed its six stores in Bahrain after the country’s franchisor went into liquidation, it has been reported.

Supa Save Bahrain, which ran the country's Waitrose stores under franchise, said it would cease trading with immediate effect, Gulf Daily News said.

It already had closed two stores in Amwaj Islands and Riffa in November last year, citing poor sales.

The other four – in Nuwaidrat, Barbar, Segaiya and Saar – shutdown on Tuesday.

GDN reported that retailers Midway Food, Geant and Jawad were considering taking over all or some of the the Waitrose franchisees.

Waitrose did not respond to Arabian Business’ request for comment.

"I shop in Waitrose in London and I feel it's a wonderful place. It's a big name, a strong English brand and we wanted them here in Bahrain,” Midway Food chief executive Khalid Al Amin told GDN.

"I would have loved for them to stay in business and grow. But life is life and business is business."

A senior businessman, who did not want to be named, said Waitrose's exit from Bahrain would have a knock-on effect on companies that it owed money.

"This is an example of a foreign entity coming to Bahrain, going bust and leaving a trail of destruction behind them that local companies are left with," he said.

"I'm sure a lot of smaller Bahraini businesses are less able to suffer the financial consequences than we are."

The chain only opened in Bahrain two years ago.

"Despite strong customer loyalty to the brand, the sales required for sustainable business were not achieved," communications manager Colette Shannon said in November.

"As such, Supa Save Bahrain has made their decision to exit the market and is in discussion with several interested parties to take over the stores.

However, the high-end supermarket has been doing well in other markets, including the UAE and the UK.

The company recently announced it would hire 2000 more staff in the UK as it looked to open 26 new stores in 2014. It has opened 100 of its 302 stores in the past five years as it rapidly expands.

Online sales and smaller, more local formats also have boosted the supermarket’s growth in the UK in recent years.

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