Spinneys to embark on expansion with new stores

Spinneys is set to embark on a regional expansion plan, joining a host of other supermarket retailers in adding stores.

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The supermarket chain Spinneys is to embark on a regional expansion, opening at least 10 stores across the Middle East in the next three years.

Michael Wright, the company's chief executive, says the market for "modern" retail is thriving in the region, despite prevailing global political and economic uncertainty.

"The opportunities for modern grocery retailing are there," he said.

"It takes time to build experience in different markets, and the timing is now right for our expansion, and it's also the right timing for the markets we are in."

Spinneys, which is majority owned by Abraaj Capital in Dubai, will spend US$50 million (Dh183.6m) to $100m on the expansion plan, depending on the types of stores it opts to open. The chain operates small convenience stores, supermarkets and hypermarkets.

It plans to open three more stores in Lebanon in the next years, four in Egypt, two in Qatar and two more in Jordan within two years.

"We are also interested in other countries," Mr Wright said.

"We had projects for Libya that are now waiting for the situation to sort itself out and some in Syria. In the four countries we are launching projects, the environment is more secure."

All the region's major retailers are opening stores in markets where they are already present or are expanding into new markets in the Middle East.

Lulu will open its 100th store next year, while Géant, Almaya and Carrefour have announced plans to open convenience stores in community developments.

The cost of opening a store can vary greatly, depending on whether the retailer is building the property or leasing space, but Mr Wright said each Spinneys store would cost $3m to $15m.

The Spinneys brand operates in Lebanon, Egypt, Qatar and the UAE, where it is run as a franchise by Albwardy Investment.

Mr Wright says the supermarket is enjoying double-digit sales growth across its range of stores, bucking the recent global economic gloom.

"We are seeing a great performance all round," he said.

"Many of the segments we work in are populated by competition, but some markets are wide open.

"The great thing about the Spinneys brand is that because we are regional, we know how to serve the type of customer here."

Spinneys, which was founded in Egypt in 1924, hopes to reach total revenue of $1 billion by 2013.