Dr Gordon R Campbell, Managing Director, SPAR International shares his thoughts on the retail chain’s tie-up with Khimji Ramdas and the potential of the regional market. An OER interview
What is the purpose of your recent visit to Oman?
We are welcoming Khimji Ramdas (KR) as a partner of SPAR worldwide. We have real pleasure in welcoming KR onboard as a part of the SPAR International. With the agreement, they become a part of a leading global brand and we are proud to partner such a strong and leading Omani company.
Can you share more details of the agreement and in what ways will SPAR International be helping the Oman operations?
The agreement is an open-ended one. SPAR International is developing SPAR throughout the Middle East in a co-operative venture with Abu Dhabi Co-operative Society (ADCOOPS). So we work directly with them and we will also be working with KR in a triangular relationship. So ADCOOPS will be working and supporting our partner KR in Oman and SPAR will also be supporting KR through our expertise. We will help them by using our store formats, layouts, designs and developing the management expertise for running such stores. ADCOOPS will support KR with training and development and in the sourcing of products.
What kind of a presence does SPAR have in the Middle East as of now and where do you go from here?
We have three stores in Abu Dhabi, including a compact hypermarket, a supermarket and a local supermarket. Those three formats have been developed and they are doing extremely successfully. We have also signed an agreement with QNIE – a leading distributor in Qatar and BMI, a major investment and management company in Lebanon. The first SPAR supermarkets will open in Doha and Beirut during 2014. We have the formats and local partners in the region and we will soon start seeing more stores opening in 2014. Our target is to have 30 stores up and running in these four countries before the end of 2015.
What kind of a global presence does SPAR have?
SPAR has operations in 34 countries with 12,322 stores. Last year our global retail sale was $44bn. We believe that our 35, 36 and 37 countries would be Qatar, Lebanon and Oman in no particular order.
You have a strong presence in Europe, what has made SPAR to go in for an expansion in emerging markets?
We think it is an appropriate time to expand our presence in new markets.From my experience, Dubai seems to be particularly well developed, but we believe that there are opportunities in all of the markets that we have looked at and we are confident that SPAR can become a leading chain in the Middle East.
What are the various formats that SPAR operates in?
We operate in various formats worldwide. We have compact hypermarkets, that run into an area of 3,000 to 8,000 sq mtrs. Those stores are equally divided into three areas for fresh food, dry food and non-food. Then we have the large supermarket format called the Spa Supermarket in the Middle East, which runs into an area of 1,000 to 2,000 sq mtrs. Then we have the Spa convenience stores. We will probably develop mostly large supermarket range of stores in the Middle East. In all the stores, we have the same values, a wide range of dry groceries, private label, good value prices and all of that packed up with a high-level of excellence in customer service.