Spinneys CEO sets out Saudi retail growth plans after flagship store launch in Riyadh

Special Spinneys CEO sets out Saudi retail growth plans after flagship store launch in Riyadh
Spinneys aims to open three additional locations in Riyadh and Jeddah by year-end, positioning itself to operate up to 12 stores in Saudi Arabia by 2028. Supplied
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Updated 24 June 2024
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Spinneys CEO sets out Saudi retail growth plans after flagship store launch in Riyadh

Spinneys CEO sets out Saudi retail growth plans after flagship store launch in Riyadh

RIYADH: Dubai-based supermarket chain Spinneys has made its debut in Saudi Arabia by launching its first store in Riyadh’s La Strada Yard. 

The 43,520 sq. ft. flagship outlet in Riyadh’s emerging mixed-use development marks the beginning of Spinneys’ expansion strategy in the capital city and Jeddah, aiming to cater to the increasing preference for high-quality grocery choices across the Kingdom.

The company said its first store aims to deliver a “premium shopping experience” with a wide range of imported goods, locally sourced products, international brands, and an exclusive private label selection.

This comes as Spinneys’ initial public offering on the Dubai Financial Market, initially priced at $375 million, was oversubscribed 64 times, reaching $19.33 billion last month.

“At the time of our IPO, we were explicit about our ambitions in the Kingdom, and these are now coming to fruition. We see a massive whitespace opportunity in Saudi Arabia, with sectoral growth supported by favorable macroeconomic and consumer trends,” Sunil Kumar, CEO of Spinneys, told Arab News.

He emphasized that the local grocery market is experiencing rapidly increasing demand for a fresh, high-quality offering that squarely fits their expertise. 

“By entering Saudi Arabia now, we believe that we are gaining an early mover advantage in establishing Spinneys as the pre-eminent premium grocer,” he said. 

Kumar revealed that the company has ambitious targets for its inaugural store, aiming to achieve performance levels similar to those of one of its key community stores in the UAE.

“As our first store, we expect Spinneys La Strada to benefit from drawing customers from a broader geographic base than it would in a city where we have an existing footprint,” the CEO said.  

He added: “Our immediate goals are to offer customers in these areas a truly differentiated shopping experience, with a focus on premium fresh food, convenience and outstanding service.” 

He highlighted the company’s on-site production capabilities at La Strada, which are set to enhance economies of scale and are crucial for its fresh food offerings and profitability. 

“These facilities will have an important role in supplying fresh food to other Riyadh locations as we expand across the city,” Kumar added. 




Sunil Kumar, CEO of Spinneys. Supplied.

Spinneys operates a total of 79 stores across Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Oman, with a combined sales area of 880,000 sq. ft. across all markets.

The company aims to open three additional locations in Riyadh and Jeddah by year-end, positioning itself to operate up to 12 stores in Saudi Arabia by 2028.

Following the flagship La Strada Riyadh location, Spinneys’ next project will be an 11,636 sq. ft. store in the King Abdullah Financial District in Riyadh.

The company is also targeting opening 25 new stores in the UAE between 2024 and 2028, with recent launches and expansions underway. 

Kumar explained that their strategy includes like-for-like store growth, exploiting white space opportunities, and introducing the Kitchen by Spinneys concept, as well as expanding their hyperlocal e-commerce channel, Spinneys Swift, and optimizing operational efficiencies.

Saudi market

In terms of locations, Spinneys wants to concentrate on establishing a robust presence in Saudi Arabia’s most affluent and populous cities, namely Riyadh and Jeddah.

“There are a few reasons for this. First off, these are economic powerhouses and population hubs, with Riyadh comprising 27 percent of the national population and Jeddah 25 percent,” Kumar said. 

He further highlighted the significant expatriate population in the Kingdom, currently at 42 percent and projected to reach 50 percent by 2040, which he sees as an “important factor” for Spinneys’ market proposition. 

“Secondly,” he continued, “the disposable income levels in Riyadh and Jeddah are compelling, around $13,300 and $12,250 per capita respectively as of 2022.”

He added: “With a projected 6.4 percent CAGR for the Kingdom’s affluent population between 2022 and 2028, and particularly in view of our premium positioning, the purchasing power of families and individuals is important.” 

Looking at the Saudi market more broadly, Kumar noted that disposable incomes are rising, inflation is relatively low, and transformative initiatives like Saudi Vision 2030 are driving long-term diversification. 

“All of this creates a very attractive environment for business growth,” said the CEO.

With its leadership in the UAE, Spinneys plans to replicate and adapt its offerings in the Kingdom’s burgeoning premium grocery segment. “Our core store concepts won’t deviate radically from other GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) markets, but we have carefully tailored the in-store experience and product assortment to align with distinct Saudi preferences,” explained Kumar.  

The company asserts that it has done in-depth market research to understand unique Saudi tastes, consumer behaviors, and cultural traditions, which will be reflected in its stores. Kumar stated that the goal is to offer “a truly localized shopping experience” that combines global sourcing with authentic local flair.




Entrance of Spinneys at The Villa Community in Dubai. Shutterstock

Supply chain

The UAE-based firm recognizes the importance of establishing a robust supply chain infrastructure and local production capability. It aims to leverage its “vertically integrated” sourcing model, which Kumar notes has been a key competitive advantage in other GCC markets.

“We are already ensuring it plays the same role for our Saudi business,” Kumar said. 

The facilities at La Strada will supply other stores in Riyadh as they open, and Spinneys plans to establish in-house production facilities in Jeddah as well. “Our local production model enables us to optimize our supply chain, reduce food miles, and maintain the exceptional freshness and quality standards our brand is known for,” said the CEO. 

The company has “well-established” relationships with over 870 suppliers in 44 countries, facilitated through its own subsidiaries in major sourcing hubs such as the US, the UK and Australia. “Our Saudi customers will benefit from this supply chain in the same way that our customers in the UAE and Oman have done,” Kumar explained.  

Spinneys insists that its diverse global network, along with its proximity to producers, enables significant cost efficiencies. “It’s also a key driver of our sustainability commitment, minimizing food waste while adhering to the highest environmental and social standards. Replicating the Spinneys supply chain model in Saudi Arabia is essential to maintaining our competitive edge,” he emphasized. 

White space opportunity

Spinneys sees a significant white space opportunity in the Saudi grocery market, which Kumar describes as “too compelling to ignore.”

Citing third-party research, Kumar highlighted that the Kingdom’s overall grocery retail white space is set to reach 86 million sq. ft. by 2033, adding: “To put that into perspective, this is equivalent space for almost 1,200 Spinneys stores. As of today, we’re opening a much smaller number of stores than that, but we have a good deal of headroom in what we see as a vast, underpenetrated market that is ripe for a genuinely premium offering.”

Kumar emphasizes that it’s not just about white space; he points to a powerful confluence of structural tailwinds driving growth in the Saudi retail landscape. “The affluent population that belongs to our “target market” is forecast to expand at a 6.4 percent CAGR through 2028. This means that Spinneys’ target market is growing at a rate that outpaces the wider grocery market,” he said.

In Riyadh and Jeddah, Spinneys anticipates its target market will grow at a CAGR of 6.7 percent from 2022 to 2028, outpacing the broader Saudi grocery market, which is expected to grow at a CAGR of 4.8 percent over the same period.

Spinneys outlets in Saudi Arabia are operated through a joint venture formed in 2022 with Abdul Mohsen Al Hokair Holding Group. 

Kumar emphasized: “Our respective interests are closely aligned, and we share the same ambition to make the Spinneys brand a champion in Saudi Arabia’s premium grocery segment.” 

He added that their partner plays a crucial role in navigating the local business and regulatory landscape, as well as in identifying and securing the most attractive locations to open stores. 

“This is a partnership we are very excited about, and we have every expectation that it will continue to flourish in the years to come,” Kumar concluded.   


Global AI Summit in Riyadh to host top-level discussions on AI impact 

Global AI Summit in Riyadh to host top-level discussions on AI impact 
Updated 21 July 2024
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Global AI Summit in Riyadh to host top-level discussions on AI impact 

Global AI Summit in Riyadh to host top-level discussions on AI impact 
  • The event, organized by the Saudi Data and AI Authority, will focus on one of today’s most pressing global issues — AI technology

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia will welcome economic policymakers, major technology and artificial intelligence companies, international thought leaders, and heads of international organizations to Riyadh this September as the Global AI Summit returns for its third edition.

The event, organized by the Saudi Data and AI Authority, will focus on one of today’s most pressing global issues — AI technology — and will attempt to find solutions that “maximize the potential of these transformative technologies for the benefit of humanity,” a statement released Sunday said.

The third edition of the event will be held at the King Abdulaziz International Conference Center from Sept. 10 to 12 under the patronage of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in his capacity as chairman of the board of directors at SDAIA, the statement added.

The GAIN Summit will take place amid increasing concerns about the impact of AI technologies and will reaffirm the Kingdom’s commitment to supporting international efforts aimed at enhancing human welfare in the face of the challenges associated with developing technology.

GAIN 2024 will focus more on AI than its previous editions in 2020 and 2022, with topics including innovation in the sector, key developments shaping a better future for AI, and fostering a supportive environment for human resources in the field.

Other topics include AI at local and global levels, the complementary relationship between humans and AI, business leaders in AI, the relationship between data and applications, GenAI, AI ethics, AI processors and infrastructure, and AI and smart cities.


Saudi industry minister to visit Brazil, Chile to explore lithium production

Saudi industry minister to visit Brazil, Chile to explore lithium production
Updated 21 July 2024
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Saudi industry minister to visit Brazil, Chile to explore lithium production

Saudi industry minister to visit Brazil, Chile to explore lithium production
  • Alkhorayaf will land in Brazil on Monday and leave for Chile, the world’s second-largest producer of lithium, next Sunday

RIYADH: Bandar Alkhorayaf, Saudi Arabia’s mining and industry minister, will visit Brazil and Chile this week, the ministry said on Sunday.

In Brazil, he will hold meetings with officials to discuss expanding the Kingdom’s mining capacity, food processing, and aviation, while in Chile he will explore lithium production, needed for electric vehicle batteries.

“This aligns with the Kingdom’s direction towards expanding the production of EVs,” a Saudi government statement said. 

Alkhorayaf will land in Brazil on Monday and leave for Chile, the world’s second-largest producer of lithium, next Sunday.

On the first leg of the tour in Brazil, Alkhorayaf will meet agricultural and industrial groups, including Minerva Foods, JBS, and BRF SA, as well as the Brazilian Mining Association and mining company Vale.

Brazil’s Energy Minister Alexandre Silveira said last month that Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund plans to invest $15 billion in Brazil in areas such as green hydrogen, infrastructure, and renewable energy.

In Chile, the minister will meet his counterpart Aurora Williams, as well as mining companies Antofagasta, and Codelco, a state-run company tasked with bringing the Chilean government into the lithium industry.

Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, the PIF, and the Kingdom’s mining company, known as Ma’aden, which is 67 percent owned by the PIF, formed a joint venture called Manara Minerals to invest in mining assets abroad.


Closing Bell: Saudi main index closes in green at 12,195  

Closing Bell: Saudi main index closes in green at 12,195  
Updated 21 July 2024
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Closing Bell: Saudi main index closes in green at 12,195  

Closing Bell: Saudi main index closes in green at 12,195  

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index rose on Sunday, gaining 6.73 points, or 0.06 percent, to close at 12,195.05.   

The total trading turnover of the benchmark index was SR6.12 billion ($1.63 billion), as 74 of the listed stocks advanced, while 154 retreated.   

The MSCI Tadawul Index also closed in green, gaining 2.46 points, or 0.16 percent, to close at 1,529.46.   

The Kingdom’s parallel market Nomu rose 67.8 points, or 0.26 percent, to close at 25,770.14. This comes as 27 of the listed stocks advanced while as many as 34 retreated.   

The best-performing stock of the day was Saudi Manpower Solutions Co., whose share price surged 9.88 percent to SR10.34. 

Other top performers include Maharah Human Resources Co. as well as Al-Baha Investment and Development Co., whose share prices soared by 8.35 percent and 8.33 percent, to stand at SR6.88 and SR0.13, respectively.   

The worst performer was Electrical Industries Co., whose share price dropped by 5.51 percent to SR6.00.    

Other notable declines included Alinma Hospitality REIT Fund and The Mediterranean and Gulf Insurance and Reinsurance Co., with share prices falling 3.38 percent to SR8.29 and 3.25 percent to SR29.80, respectively. 

On the announcement front, Saudi Tadawul Holding Co. reported a profit increase to SR146 million for the second quarter of 2024, reflecting a 55 percent rise from SR105.2 million in the same period last year.  

The company attributed this growth to a 50.3 percent increase in operating revenues, which reached SR741.1 million in the first half of 2024, up from SR493.0 million in the corresponding period of the previous year. 

According to a release on the bourse, Saudi Arabian Amiantit Co. reported a net profit of SR5.11 million for the second quarter of 2024, reversing a net loss of SR10.08 million from the same quarter last year, marking a 150.7 percent improvement.  

This positive shift was attributed to a 17.4 percent increase in revenue due to expanded sales and a higher volume of new orders. 

Kingdom Holding Co., Sumou Holding Co., and Jeddah Economic Co. have signed an agreement to establish a new SR6.8 billion fund to acquire the Alinma Jeddah Economic Fund, currently fully owned by Jeddah Economic Co. Kingdom Holding Co. will hold a 40 percent stake in the new fund. 


Saudi Arabia’s US treasury bond possession increases 22.46% year-on-year to $136.3bn

Saudi Arabia’s US treasury bond possession increases 22.46% year-on-year to $136.3bn
Updated 21 July 2024
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Saudi Arabia’s US treasury bond possession increases 22.46% year-on-year to $136.3bn

Saudi Arabia’s US treasury bond possession increases 22.46% year-on-year to $136.3bn

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s possession of US treasury bonds increased to $136.3 billion in May, compared to $111.3 billion for the same month in 2023.

The figures mark a 22.46 percent year-on-year increase.

Data released by the US Treasury Department placed Saudi Arabia in 17th spot among the largest investors in such financial instruments in May.

The report revealed that the Kingdom held bonds valued at $135.4 billion in April, compared to $135.9 billion and $131.1 billion in March and February, respectively.

The figures illustrate Saudi Arabia’s growing influence in international financial markets, highlighting a keen understanding of leveraging sovereign wealth to secure and strengthen the Kingdom’s global economic position.

Moreover, Saudi Arabia is the only Arab and Middle Eastern country among the top 20 major holders of US Treasury securities.

A report published in January by the Saudi Central Bank, also known as SAMA, revealed that its investments in foreign securities stood at $1 trillion at the end of December 2023.

SAMA also has $361.75 billion as deposits with banks abroad, the report added.

The data analysis also revealed that Japan emerged as the largest investor in US bonds in May, with holdings totaling $1.128 trillion. China and the UK followed, with portfolios valued at $768.3 billion and $723.4 billion, respectively. 

Luxembourg claimed the fourth spot with assets valued at $385.4 billion, while Canada and the Cayman Islands secured the fifth and sixth positions with treasury portfolios worth $354.5 billion and $336.5 billion, respectively. 

Ireland attained seventh spot with treasury reserves worth $317.7 billion, followed by Belgium and Switzerland, with assets amounting to $313 billion and $290.4 billion, respectively.

France held the 10th position with treasury assets amounting to $283 billion, while Taiwan and India occupied 11th and 12th places with portfolios worth $263.3 billion and $237.8 billion, respectively.

The data collected is primarily from US-based custodians and broker-dealers. Since American securities held in overseas accounts may not be attributed to the actual owners, the department said, the data may not provide a precise accounting of individual country ownership of treasury securities.


Saudi capital market systems prove resilient during global tech outage

Saudi capital market systems prove resilient during global tech outage
Updated 21 July 2024
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Saudi capital market systems prove resilient during global tech outage

Saudi capital market systems prove resilient during global tech outage

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s capital market systems proved resilient during the global technical outage on July 19, which disrupted flights, broadcasting services, and essential services worldwide. 

The Saudi Capital Market Authority stated that it promptly coordinated with market stakeholders to mitigate the effects of the interruption, ensuring that operations remained unaffected.  

According to the CMA, its systems were fully operational and prepared to support investors during the trading sessions on July 21.

The outage, triggered by a software update from cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike, caused widespread disruptions across various sectors. 

In response, the CMA directed listed companies on the Saudi capital market to disclose any significant developments related to the incident. The market regulator emphasized that its technical teams are monitoring systems around the clock to ensure ongoing stability and business continuity. 

The Saudi Exchange also reassured investors of its system’s reliability and readiness to provide continuous service. 

On July 20, Saudi Arabia’s National Cybersecurity Authority stated that the impact of the outage on the Kingdom was limited. The authority also noted that it has implemented exceptional measures to monitor threats and cyber risks and to respond to any incidents. 

The Saudi Central Bank confirmed that its payment and banking infrastructure remained unaffected by the outage, emphasizing its adherence to international cybersecurity and operational standards.  

The apex bank also highlighted its commitment to regularly updating precautionary measures to ensure effective business continuity and the resilience of its banking and payment systems. 

The Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority also stated that its systems and those it hosts in the Kingdom were not impacted by the global technical failure. 

“SDAIA confirms that its systems and the national systems hosted by it in the Kingdom are not affected by the technical failure that struck most countries of the world today,” it stated in a statement posted on X. 

The incident has sparked renewed discussions about the importance of cybersecurity and resilience in critical infrastructure, with many organizations reassessing their strategies and safeguards to prevent future disruptions.

The Kingdom’s Vision 2030 underscores a robust commitment to advancing cybersecurity, with strategic investments aimed at enhancing digital infrastructure and safeguarding national assets against emerging cyber threats.