Waitrose eyes more stores in Bahrain
Manama, March 16, 2012
British food chain Waitrose is planning to open up to eight stores in Bahrain within the next few years, it was announced yesterday.
The company will also train Bahrainis at its Dubai-based facilities, said Jannie Holtzhausen, chief executive officer of UAE-based company Fine Fare Food Market (FFFM), which manages the day-to-day operations of Waitrose stores in the region.
"Now that Waitrose have opened our second store in Bahrain, we are looking at more expansion in the future," Holtzhausen told the Gulf Daily News, our sister newspaper.
"We will look at areas that are suitable and proceed accordingly."
Holtzhausen was speaking after Bahrain's second Waitrose store opened near the St Christopher's School, Saar, yesterday.
"We started thinking about opening in Bahrain eight years ago and our first store in Amwaj only materialised in February last year," he said. "A few times in the months gone by, we were even thinking of closing down due to the uncertainty in the situation.
"However, our board has expressed full confidence in Bahrain and, instead of closing, we have another store. We believe in the long-term stability of Bahrain."
He said, however, to make their business more cost-effective, they would have to import directly from their suppliers, rather than through the Dubai operations.
"This can only happen once we have the volumes generated by more stores. We would then be more competitively priced than we are now. We need to have the critical mass to achieve that."
Bahrain's two Waitrose stores now employ 60 people, 30 per cent of them Bahrainis. "We have a programme to train all our people in-house and later send them to our home base training school in Dubai where they can gain more expertise and return."
He said the company believed in quality of its products and services. "We are known for that and that is what we have brought to Bahrain as well."
The group now has more than 200 stores worldwide, most of them in the UK. It has two in Dubai and four more are slated to open in the UAE this year.
Earlier, the store was inaugurated by Waitrose UK director David Morton and Holtzhausen.
Speaking at the opening, FFFM marketing manager Colette Shannon said Waitrose are delighted to be expanding their footprint in Bahrain.
"At Waitrose we value food safety and traceability, and make every effort to source responsibly to minimise the impact of growing and transporting the food we eat."
She said Waitrose Saar will offer customers a modern, convenient shopping experience, while ensuring the everyday needs of our customers were satisfied. - TradeArabia News Service