Panda launches overseas foray

The UAE's food retailers and hypermarkets have a major new rival to contend with: Saudi Arabia's Savola Group.

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By  David Ingham Published  October 5, 2005

Savola Group is to open its first HyperPanda hypermarket outside Saudi Arabia at Dubai’s Festival City development. The outlet will cover 175,000 ft² and carry around 100,000 lines. Phil McArthur, director of leasing & marketing at Dubai Festival City, said Savola’s “high level of professionalism and clear vision” had won it the right to operate what will be one of the UAE’s largest hypermarkets. Although Savola runs around 50 Panda-branded supermarkets and hypermarkets across Saudi Arabia, this is its first foray outside its home market. The opening is one major step in an ambitious programme of store openings and planned revenue growth. In 2004, Savola achieved turnover of SR 1.8 billion from its 50 Panda and HyperPanda outlets in the Kingdom. In 2010, it aims to have 124 Panda and HyperPanda outlets in Saudi Arabia, ten HyperPandas outside Saudi Arabia, and post a staggering SR 10 billion in retail revenues. Dr. Muhammad Amin Kashgari, president of Savola’s retail division, said he is confident Panda can compete with Carrefour and Geant wherever it operates. The basis of the chain’s success, he said, is constant promotions, an emphasis on fresh food and the tailoring of individual stores to the tastes of the local audience. “We have a strong team and a lot of knowledge in how to operate hypermarkets,” said Kashgari. “We have a clear idea of how to compete with multi-nationals.”

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