SPAR, which opened its first Supermarket in Oman in the last week of January 2015, will have four stores by the end of 2015 with new ones to be opened at Madinat Al Qaboos and near The Wave-Muscat, says M Sridhar, CEO, SPAR Oman in an interview with Oommen John P.
Can you share details of SPAR International’s operations?
SPAR, which was established more than 80 years ago, is the world’s largest food retailer with 12,500 stores across 40 countries. Globally recognised for great value and quality offerings, SPAR prides itself on the concept of fresh food. Their strategies are very clear. They want to grow their presence in the world, grow with their partners and also grow their brand.
SPAR’s foray into the Middle East?
SPAR as a brand is already making waves in South Africa and is doing exceptionally well in Russia and China. They are growing their presence in the Middle East. SPAR has opened four stores in Abu Dhabi operating in different formats including a compact hypermarket and a supermarket. They are making a foray into Qatar as well. Very soon, they will have a significant presence in the region.
What has brought Khimji Ramdas Group and SPAR International together?
What has brought SPAR and Khimji Ramdas together is the shared values. SPAR has followed a value system which includes customer service excellence, offering their best to customers. And they are very important to the Khimji Ramdas Group as well. Both the companies are 80 years and 146 years old respectively. They have their own level of wisdom and maturity, which makes for a great collaboration and integration together providing value for Omani shoppers. SPAR wants to deliver customer service excellence and also want to be recognised as delivering fresh products and also as a promoter of local products. And it does not mean price alone, but quality at a great price. These are things that bring us together and that makes the partnership much stronger. SPAR will be supporting KR through expertise and also help them by developing the management expertise for running the stores. But our focus on “Freshness” will mean that local produce will be given maximum importance in the store.
How many SPAR stores are planned in Oman? How are the SPAR stores different from other retail stores?
SPAR opened its first Supermarket in Oman in the last week of January 2015. The 700 sq metre SPAR facility at Al Khuwair, Muscat promises to deliver a wide assortment of fresh produce including fruits and vegetables, meat, fish, bakery and food-to-go range from Kitsu. This state-of-art SPAR Supermarket in Al Khuwair will offer customers a new and a rewarding experience like none other. SPAR Middle East has worked closely with SPAR Oman to design customer friendly layout and ambience bringing convenient and pleasurable shopping for discerning customers in Muscat. The first SPAR Supermarket will maximise customer delight from day one by offering free home delivery. A 250 sq m SPAR Express format has also been launched at South Al Ghubra behind Al Asalah towers.
SPAR will have a total of four stores with new ones to be opened at Madinat Al Qaboos and a store very close to The Wave-Muscat in 2015. We plan to open stores in the interior regions as well.
SPAR is making investment in good systems and best practices from international platform. And KR as the franchise partner is investing into it. The Staff will be trained by SPAR. We are investing heavily into people. SPARs strategy is to be local. We will encourage manufacturers locally as well. Customers can expect good value food and non-food products imported from different countries with high standards of hygiene, friendly customer service giving them a premium quality shopping environment which is truly international.
What are the brands that SPAR will bring to Oman?
SPAR has 300 different categories. From tomato paste to energy drinks, hair care and pet food, they have world class brands, which is well accepted everywhere. We will have the opportunity to bring them to Oman. People are much more health conscious of what they consume now than in the past. With SPAR coming to Oman, we are talking about an experience in food, which is focused on the holistic health. All the products are sourced from most parts of the world, depending on very stringent quality measures. SPAR is a beautiful family of 40 countries collaborating together. There are some exclusive products. We have launched coconut water from Thailand and a soft cookie from Saudi Arabia, which will be available only in SPAR store.
What will be the format that SPAR will operate in?
SPAR operates in all formats worldwide. In Oman, it will be supermarkets and friendly neighbourhood stores. All stores will be more than 300 sq metres. The next two stores will be 1200 sq metres and 350 sq metres respectively. We would like to deliver an extraordinary customer service experience. SPAR will have unique and distinctive products that will bring shoppers to us. If a particular product is not available, SPAR will try to source the product for the benefit of shoppers. And if shoppers are unhappy with the quality of butchery products, they can always return it and SPAR will return the money. That’s the quality of our fresh produce. At the SPAR Al Khuwair and Al Ghubra stores, home delivery services will be available within the vicinity.