It’s not usual for us to look at a company directly, but there are few finer examples of British companies succeeding in the Middle East than Spinneys.
Spinneys is a supermarket chain similar to many others. What makes it worthy of feature is that it was established 1924 in Alexandria, Egypt by Arthur Rawdon Spinney. Mr Spinney is reported as having seen a market opportunity for imported goods which, as a British Army Officer stationed in Egypt nat that time, he would have been well placed to do. Historically Spinneys supplied Allied forces during World War II, and opened its first store in Dubai in 1962.
Traditionally what Spinneys has done best is to cater to the British expat market. Pork is available in most of the UAE, and Spinneys is the largest pork retailer in the country. More recently it partnered with Waitrose and stocks many of the upper end food brands that you’d find in the UK. At Christmas it sells an array of decorations (as do other chains, but Spinneys really targets that market), and even imports British confectionary. This may not sound like a big deal, but when you’ve gone a decade without a Peppermint Aero, and then you see one, you tend to buy them all!
Often on this blog we talk about how the UAE works to develop itself and how you can work your way into the journey. It’s good to note that among the numbers and charts, and mega projects and urban sprawl, that an idea started nearly 100 years ago by a Brit in Egypt is still holds relevance in the modern UAE today.