Abu Dhabi - Dutch food retailer Spar International plans to
enter the Middle East, aiming to have 30 stores in the region by the end of
2015, its managing director said on Sunday.
The company, which says it has over 12 000 stores worldwide
and also has stores across South Africa, will have eight stores in Abu Dhabi,
two in Qatar and one in Lebanon by the end of this year, Gordon Campbell told
Spar plans to expand further in the United Arab Emirates and
is also looking at entering Oman and Saudi Arabia over the next three years, he
"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," he said.
The UAE, where expatriates far outnumber local citizens,
already has international retailers such as Carrefour and Geant as well as
locally developed brands such as Lulu, so competition is intense. But Campbell
said 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 said.
Spar's unique selling point will be its convenience stores
and large supermarkets of around 1,800 square metres; other retailers in the
region have focused on hypermarkets with sizes of around 10,000 square metres,
The Dutch firm is partnering with Abu Dhabi Cooperative
Society, a local retailer, for its Middle East entry and expansion.
Spar expects its Middle East operations to generate revenues
of over $1bn in five to ten years, Campbell said. The company expects its
global turnover to have hit $43bn in 2012, up 4.5% over the prior year, he
In its most recent annual report the retailer said South
Africa was now the second-largest Spar country as well as being the major Spar
presence on the continent.
Austria and Norway are its biggest European markets in terms
of revenue while Australia, South Africa and China are major markets.
Last year the retailer reported full-year earnings that fell
short of market expectations for its South African business. Diluted headline
earnings rose 9.3% in the year to end-September, to 571 cents per share.
Revenue grew to R43.5bn from the previous period’s R38.8bn
and turnover increased 12.2% to R43.2bn. The group declared an annual dividend
of 430 cents per share‚ a 14.1% rise from the previous period’s dividend.
By the end of 2015, Spar projects worldwide turnover will
hit $50bn as it expands into new markets.
Spar shares were down 0.37% to R121.50 in early trade on the
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