SPAR Oman plans to open 21 stores in Oman by the end of 2018. Some of the Khimji Mart outlets in Oman will be rebranded and converted to SPAR Supermarkets, explains Dr Gordon R Campbell, CEO, SPAR International, who was on a visit to Muscat, in an interview with Oommen John P.
Could you tell us about SPAR International’s operations in Oman?
SPAR International, which was established more than 80 years ago, is the world’s largest voluntary food retailer with over 12,000 stores across 40 countries. Globally recognised for great value and quality offerings, SPAR prides itself on the concept of fresh food.
SPAR International signed a direct permanent license agreement with Khimji Ramdas recently, and we discussed the future plans. We visited the three stores that have been opened in Muscat. And they are exceptionally well done and sales are growing. We now have plans to open a minimum of 21 stores by the end of 2018.
What formats will SPAR operate in Oman?
SPAR operates across all formats worldwide. The formats which we operate that fit this market are neighbourhood stores, neighbourhood supermarkets and local supermarkets. In Oman, SPAR will operate supermarkets and friendly neighbourhood stores. The stores will not be in big shopping malls but in residential areas. Khimji Mart outlets will be rebranded and converted to SPAR Supermarkets. SPAR will have unique and distinctive products that will attract shoppers.
We are not a multi-national organisation. We bring the know-how, bring in the international expertise in retailing, formats of the stores, layouts and design, merchandising operations and training. Investments will be made by Khimji Ramdas. SPAR is investing in good systems and best practices on an international platform. And KR as the franchise partner is investing into it. The Staff will be trained by SPAR International.
What differentiates SPAR from the rest?
We are an organisation which builds neighbourhood convenient stores that bring good value shopping to local neighbourhoods and local consumers. In Muscat, consumers will be experiencing modern shopping. Now they will have an opportunity to come to SPAR and have the same experience, close to where they reside. This will be a huge advantage as consumers will not have to drive long distances for shopping. At SPAR, consumers get the same standard of shopping. SPAR stores are well laid out, easy to shop, offer great choice of goods and deliver fresh foods.
All our products are competitively priced. We have new product lines that include a range of SPAR brands from Europe, such as biscuits and energy drinks. KR is also sourcing products internationally such as coconut water from Thailand. It’s our values that inspire our customers.
Any customer who walks through the doors of SPAR, will get to see a wide range of products, fruits and vegetables at good prices. They will also get to see high operational standards and customer service. Our values of freshness, choice and value of service will enable customers to experience a new brand of shopping closer to their home.
Why should customers shop at SPAR?
Customers will have a far better range of fresh products, which are very well sourced and of high standards and excellent quality. They will have a modern shopping experience with well trained, friendly staff and a choice that they don’t have elsewhere.
SPAR has followed a value system which includes customer service excellence, offering their best to customers. SPAR is keen to deliver customer service excellence and wants to be recognised as delivering fresh products and also as a promoter of local products. SPAR will be supporting KR through expertise and also help them by developing the management expertise for running the stores.
SPAR’s growth strategy in the GCC region and globally?
SPAR will be expanding its operations in the UAE. Currently, we operate 13 stores. We plan to open 20 stores by the end of the year. In 2016, we anticipate to open the first store in Qatar. We also have plans to enter Saudi Arabia. In Oman, SPAR has opened three stores and sales are growing.
Globally, SPAR operates 12120 stores in 40 countries. We had global retail sales of 32 billion Euros in 2014. Our strength is in Western Europe, where we are present virtually in every country. Austria is SPAR International’s biggest market, with a market share of over 30 per cent. We are very strong in South Africa, where we are the No 2 retailer with 870 stores and a market share of 28 per cent. In recent years, we have been expanding very rapidly in Russia with 430 stores. China is also a strong market where we have 300 stores.
SPAR International’s foray into new markets?
India and Indonesia have seen big development in 2015. In India, SPAR has opened 17 hypermarkets since September 2014. In Indonesia, SPAR operates 14 super markets. India is a hugely exciting market and so is Indonesia. Additionally, we have opened in Cameroon and very shortly will open in Azerbaijan. We will continue to develop Middle East, South East Asia, Eastern Europe and Africa. But our focus will be Middle East and South East Asia.