Dutch supermarket chain Spar plans to open at least thirty stores in the Middle East. This year Spar will open eight stores in Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates), two in Qatar and one in Lebanon. More will follow suit in the next three years, in Oman, Saudi Arabia and (again) the UAE.
Plenty of ex-pats
In an interview with Reuters, CEO Gordon Campbell revealed that "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" Some stores will also have restaurants, as well as ready-made meals to consume along the way or at home.
The Emirates’ market is already highly competitive, but "Wherever we go, they say the market is saturated. The reality is the food market is evolving always with new ideas and concepts,” Campbell asserts. The Emirates are crowded with ex-pats, many of whom already are familiar with the Spar formula.
Spar hopes to realize a turnover of 750 million euro in the Middle East within five to ten years. Total turnover in 2012 will add up to roughly 31 billion euro, which is 4.5 percent higher than the year before. The company expects a sales figure of 37 billion by 2015.
A Dutch cooperative
Spar was founded in 1932 as a formula of Dutch independent retailers and now joins together 320 stores in the Netherlands. In addition, some smaller franchises carrying the name Attent and several neutral shops are part of the Spar Holding as well, adding up to a total of some 600 stores in the Netherlands.
Spar is itself partly (for 45%) owned by Sperwer and partly (for another 45%) by the Sligro Food Group. The Belgian supermarket chain Colruyt acquired a license for the Spar brand in 2003 for shops in Belgium and Luxemburg via its subsidiary Spar Retail. Another Belgian company, Lambrechts, also has a license for the Spar brand.
From supermarkt to sports chain
Further from home, Spar is successful in Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovenia with supermarkets and the Hervis chain of sport stores. In some countries they also own Euro Spar as well as Interspar stores.
The total number of stores carrying the name Spar exceeds the number of 12,000 in 34 countries. Among them South Africa, where Spar is one of the greatest supermarket chains in that country with both large supermarkets (above 4000 sqm) and smaller stores (of about 400 sqm).