Retailer SPAR to enter Middle East markets


Dutch food retailer SPAR International has plans to enter the Middle East, aiming to have 30 stores in the region by the end of 2015

The company, which says it has more than 12,000 stores worldwide, will have eight stores in Abu Dhabi, two in Qatar and one in Lebanon by the end of this year, Gordon Campbell, managing director of SPAR, said.

SPAR plans to expand further in the UAE and is also looking at entering Oman and Saudi Arabia over the next three years, he told Reuters.

It expects its Middle East operations to generate revenues of more than US$1bn in five to 10 years, Campbell said.

"The company also expects its global turnover to have hit US$43bn in 2012, up by 4.5 per cent over the prior year," Campbell remarked.

"Our focus will be on a range of fresh foods and the convenience of food to go and food to stay, with a seating area in the compact stores."

The UAE already has international retailers such as Carrefour and Geant, as well as locally developed brands such as Lulu. Campbell said, however, that there was still room for growth.

"Wherever we go, they say the market is saturated. The reality is the food market is evolving always with new ideas and concepts," he commented.

SPAR's unique selling point will be its convenience stores and large supermarkets of around 1,800 sq m; other retailers in the region have focused on hypermarkets with sizes of around 10,000 square metres, Campbell said.

The Dutch firm is partnering with Abu Dhabi Cooperative Society, a local retailer, for its Middle East entry and expansion.

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