Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Retail Memo: Upscale British Supermarket Chain Waitrose Opens its First Store Outside the UK in Oil-Rich Dubai

The gourmet deli and prepared foods department at the new Waitrose supermarket in Dubai offers in-store fresh, prepared foods with a local and international flair, including being halal certified. [Photo Credit: Talking Retail.]

The upscale British supermarket chain Waitrose may have found a way to help the United Kingdom balance at least a little bit of its massive petro-dollar outflow to the middle east oil Kingdoms by selling fancy groceries in a new, upscale supermarket the grocer opened on November 4 in the oil-rich (UAE) Kingdom of Dubai, and bringing the profits back home.

Waitrose's new supermarket in Dubai, it's first of two stores planned for the Kingdom and the retailer's first store outside of the UK and in the middle east, is a 5,000 sq m unit located on the ground floor of the tallest building in the world, the Burj Dubai.

Waitrose says the new store offers a mix of traditional branded products along with a selection of local produce to try and offer strong alternatives for Dubai locals.

The store is a gourmet food lover's (or aspiring gourmet food lover's) paradise. It features fresh, prepared foods like Waitrose is famous for in its United Kingdom stores, as well as lots of natural, organic, premium, international, specialty and gourmet food and grocery products across all categories. The supermarket also offers basic food and grocery items.

Taking its upscale Waitrose supermarkets to Dubai and other oil rich middle east Kingdoms is likely a good idea for Waitrose, which is owned by the UK's John Lewis Partnership. Doing so is the brain child of company CEO Mark Price, who has been wanting to grow the chain outside the United Kingdom for some years now.

Flush with oil money, most of the residents of Dubai shouldn't have trouble affording the high prices for all the imported gourmet delights offered in the new Waitrose supermarket in the Kingdom.

And of course, since Dubai is a Muslim country, all of the products in the store are certified halal, which are the set of dietary laws most Muslims follow.

Since Dubai also has many non-Muslim's, including scientists, high tech professions and businesses people from the west, Waitrose says the new Dubai supermarket also carrys conventional food and grocery products not certified halal. There also are numerous European, Asian and foods from the U.S. designed to appeal to these expats who work in the petroleum, banking, high-tech and other industries in Dubai.

As part of following the Islamic halal dietary laws for example, the Dubai Waitrose supermarket must seperate the sale of pork from other meats since eating pork is not permited for Muslims under the halal dietary laws. The store has a seperate fresh pork department away from the main meat department.

The British trade publication Talking Retail has been closely covering Waitrose's move into the middle east, along with the recent opening of the upscale grocers first store in Dubai.

Talking Retail just published a number of photographs of the new Dubai Waitrose fancy foods supermarket. You can view that photo essay here.

Additionally, you can read more about the Dubai Waitrose and the upscale food and grocery retailer's plans for the middle east at the links below:

>November 4, 2008: Waitrose has today opened the first of two new stores in Dubai, UAE, its first shops outside the UK. Click the link to read the story: Waitrose opens first store outside UK.

>October 24, 2008: Waitrose is set to open its first store in the Middle East next week, when the Dubai Mall is unveiled. Click the link to read the story: Waitrose targets Middle East despite UK sales worries.

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