Waitrose confirms overseas expansion plans
by Kay Murchie
Waitrose, the supermarket division of the John Lewis Partnership, has announced plans to expand overseas in a deal to open its luxury food stores in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
It will license the Waitrose brand to Dubai-based retailer Spinneys, which will lead to selected stores carrying the Waitrose fascia in Dubai.
The firm expects to have 20 Waitrose supermarkets in the region by 2010 with the first store expected in April. Two further purpose-built branches are expected to open in July and October.
One will be located next to the Dubai Marina while the other will be situated at the new Burj Dubai Mall, which it said is expected to be the biggest shopping centre in the world.
The move follows that of other retailers including Marks & Spencer and Tesco who are embarking on overseas expansion.
Waitrose exports its own label products to over 20 countries globally but the move indicates the first time in the 104-year-old company’s history that its store front will appear outside of the UK.
Richard Hodgson of Waitrose said this agreement is set to accelerate export trade for Waitrose and marks a significant milestone in our international ambitions. Mr Hodgson added that the supermarket chain’s international business could be as much as 10% of overall turnover within the next decade.
The supermarket chain has also been in contact with potential franchise partners in South Africa and is rumoured to be close to signing a deal to export Waitrose-branded products to the USA.
Howard Wheeldon of BGC Partners said we find it difficult to imagine that UAE residents won’t take Waitrose to their hearts. If they do and if the UK market does falter through the year ahead then the plan to move into the UAE ‘will be seen as the right decision’ said Mr Wheeldon.
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