Waitrose chain pulls out of Bahrain
Manama, November 12, 2013
High-end supermarket chain Waitrose is pulling out of Bahrain just two years after opening its first store in the country, the company's regional partner said.
Poor sales were cited as the reason for the decision, which has left two outlets at The Lagoon in Amwaj Islands and The Walk in Riffa already closed, reported the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
"Despite strong customer loyalty to the brand, the sales required for sustainable business were not achieved," said communications manager Colette Shannon from Supa Save Bahrain, which runs Bahrain's Waitrose shops under franchise.
"As such, Supa Save Bahrain has made their decision to exit the market and is in discussion with several interested parties to take over the stores.
"Supa Save and Waitrose wish to thank their customers, suppliers and staff for their support over the past few years."
Remaining Waitrose outlets at Jawad Dome, Barbar, Al Hayat Plaza, Segaiya, Nakheel Centre, Saar and The Centre, Nuwaidrat were still open as usual yesterday, but staff said they were uncertain about the future of the stores.
"We have heard rumours," Nuwaidrat store trainee duty manager Anselmo Pagsibigan told the GDN.
"But all the staff are waiting to see what will happen.
"We want to know what the next move is. Before Waitrose came here, it was Jawad and a few weeks ago, there was talk of Geant taking over. But we don't have any idea. It's only rumours - that's all the staff have heard."
Regular Waitrose shopper Ali, 34, said he would miss the fresh bread available at the outlet in The Centre at Nuwaidrat.
"It's my favourite bread, they have a very good bakery and I wonder where I will be able to get the good quality bread now because it has a short shelf life and a lot of the bread you get elsewhere has a lot of preservatives in it," he said.
Another customer, Ahmed, 26, gets his lunch from Waitrose daily and said he would miss the fresh produce. "For me it's the vegetables. They have very good fruit and vegetables and I hope Geant will offer the same if they come," he said.
"The problem with Waitrose I think is that they are for the middle and upper class while the majority of Bahrainis range from middle class to poor, so even for me, I wouldn't go there for my weekly groceries."
Geant officials were unavailable to comment on the hypermarket's possible takeover. Managers of The Walk, Riffa and The Lagoon, Amwaj Islands could also not be reached for comment. – TradeArabia News Service