Waitrose in Dubai deal to open first stores abroad

Mon Dec 31, 2007 4:53am EST

LONDON Dec 31 (Reuters) - Waitrose, the supermarket chain owned by British retailer John Lewis [JLP.UL], said it will open more than 20 stores in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) by 2010, the first time its own brand will appear abroad. Waitrose said it had signed a licensing deal with supermarket retailer Spinneys under which selected stores will carry the Waitrose fascia in Dubai, the first of which will open in April, 2008.

Two more Waitrose branches will open in July and October, with a further 20 planned over the next two years.

Spinneys has been selling a wide range of Waitrose products in the UAE, particularly Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and neighbouring Oman, since 2004.

"This agreement is set to accelerate export trade for Waitrose and marks a significant milestone in our international ambitions," Richard Hodgson, commercial director for Waitrose, said in a statement on its Web site on Saturday.

"Spinneys, a retail operator that shares many of the Waitrose trading principles and with whom we have enjoyed a successful three-year partnership, was the obvious choice for our first licensing deal," Hodgson added.

Spinneys runs 40 supermarkets in the UAE and Oman.

(Reporting by Mike Elliott, Editing by Erica Billingham)

((mike.mg.elliott@reuters.com; phone +44 20 7542 4019; Reuters Messaging: mike.mg.elliott.reuters.com@reuters.net)) Keywords: WAITROSE/UAE

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