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Plans to open 15 more SPAR Express stores in Oman

In the same week as the opening of the 15th corporate owned SPAR Supermarket in Oman, plans were announced for rapid expansion into a further 15 SPAR Express stores.

In the same week as the opening of the 15th corporate owned SPAR Supermarket in Oman, plans were announced for rapid expansion into a further 15 SPAR Express stores.

In a press release, SPAR said this will be achieved through a partnership with Nakheel United Enterprises LLC by converting retail stores at Al Maha petrol forecourt points in Muscat.

Devendra Kumar, head of SPAR Oman’s retail division said, “SPAR’s success story in Oman has been possible because of customers’ acceptance which has been driven by our four core values of Freshness, Choice, Value and Excellent Customer-Service. Over the last 24 months we have expanded to 15 stores in Muscat, and with the launch of the sub-licensing model, we expect to grow multi-fold in the years to come.”

The 15th SPAR Supermarket opened on January 10, having been converted and modernised from the Khimji chain to SPAR. The convenience focused store has a retail selling area of 395m² of which 85m²  is dedicated to fresh produce, fish and meat.

There is an excellent range instore with a very diverse offer including 340 products purchased from India, the Netherlands, South Africa, Belgium, France, South Korea, the UK Kingdom and the US

SPAR Own Brand is prevalent throughout the store with 150 SKU’s being available.

Image (from Spar): M Sridhar, K Kapadia & D Moore open the 15th store

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Pegasus Agriculture: the future of hydroponics

Hydroponics Market Anticipated to Grow from $19.9 billion in 2015 to $27.3 billion in 2020

Pegasus Agriculture is one of the leading owners and operators of hydroponic farming facilities in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Its office is strategically located in Dubai, U.A.E., and serves as the headquarters for its global growing and distribution network.

“With over 150 years of combined market experience, Pegasus Agriculture continues to lead the MENA region in its goal to contribute to its independent food security,” said Mahmood Almas, chairman of the group.

The group has designed different hydroponic systems adapted to every different growing region to produce during a full 12 month period. The units designed for the Middle East have a double roof system to protect the plants from the sun.

Other indoor types of farms are adapted to Nordic countries like Russia and based on large buildings of concrete, using the latest generation of LED light. This system is much cheaper than advanced Dutch glasshouses, and also more productive,” added Almas.

Omani Farm

Last year, Pegasus opened the first half of its 2 ha operation planned in Oman specialising in leafy greens. “2016 was the first summer crop, which was produced with success and we were able to control the high summer temperatures,” Almas said.

It is divided into greenhouses of 0.5 ha area each (144 by 36 m2 ). Each includes 25 to 30 production lines that are 15 m long, 2 m wide and 2.5 m high. Each production unit includes 16 crop lines; 8 on each side. The productivity is achieving a record level of 180 kg/m2 of lettuces, with production of 14 crop cycles every year.

Portugal’s Proença-a-Nova Park to supply UK market

In a meeting on 16th August, the City Council approved the transfer of designated plots to Pegasus Agriculture, with the aim of constructing hydroponic farms. The structure is expected to be completed by May 2017, and the vast majority of the subsequently farmed produce is to be destined for export, the priority target being the UK.

Pegasus plans to invest two and a half million euros (€2.5 million) per hectare of production and employ 12 people in the first phase of production (of three phases). “This new investment with other companies that today are already in the business park confirms the location’s capacity to attract new companies and thus promote employability,” said President Mayor of Proenca-a-Nova, John Wolf.

Read more fresh produce industry news from edition 145 (Sep-Oct 2016) of Eurofresh Distribution magazine online here:

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Suhol controls the entire supply chain

Suhol serves as the full service provider and category manager for the major supermarket chains in Oman, like the 30 Khimji hypermarkets, the largest chain in the country, Al Meera, Lulu, Spinneys (operated by Al Fair) and Spar.

The leading fruit and vegetable provider for the Omani market integrates the entire supply chain from production to import, logistics, wholesale and retail.

“We are the number one supplier of fruit and vegetables for the country, with an estimated 40% market share of imports and 60% of supermarket supplies,” states Abdul Latheef, CEO of Suhol Al Fayha Trading. Suhol serves as the full service provider and category manager for the major supermarket chains in Oman, like the 30 Khimji hypermarkets, the largest chain in the country, Al Meera, Lulu, Spinneys (operated by Al Fair) and Spar.

The company is run by the chairman Zahir Zahran from India and the co-founder Abdul Wahid, the local partner. Both have a vision of serving the Omani population with premium quality products at the most competitive price, via the shortest and most effective supply chain. Suhol provides more than 45,000 tons of premium fruit and vegetables a year to every market segment. Bananas are the top product category by volume, followed by apples, citrus, stone fruit, root vegetables (carrots, garlic, ginger, onions and potatoes) and leaf vegetables.

The main import sources for vegetables are Jordan and Iran in winter, and Holland in summer. Among the leading brands delivered by Suhol in Oman are Zespri kiwis, Apollo apples from New Zealand, Capespan from South Africa, Sun Choice and Ever Season citrus, Fruit Root apples, Dole pineapples (from the Philippines), True Cape apples, Bella apples by Nava (Italy) and Blue Whale and Copex from France. Despite its short shelf life, summer fruit is a major category distributed by Suhol, including peaches and nectarines, will all the supplies coming from nearby countries (Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Turkey and Iran). Suhol’s concern for food safety is also high, since the group is ISO 9001 certified. “Delivering our customers a premium quality service is important for our customers as well.”

Photo courtesy of

A vision of integration and consistent development

Today, the company has more than 656 employees, having doubled in the last decade. “Our mission is also in line with the short and long term goals of consistent integration, aiming to multiply employment opportunities for both locals and expats,” said Latheef. Suhol is also present as an importer and wholesaler in the Al Aweer market of Dubai, Doha and recently Jeddah in Saudi Arabia. “Our long term goal is to establish ourselves as a dedicated, specialist retailer in other markets in the Gulf,” explains Khan.The group has already opened a fruit and vegetable store in Jeddah.

On the logistics side, Suhol runs its own fleet of trucks and has increased its storage capacity to over 2,000 tons. Its logistics centres are based in Sohar and Muscat, with a third one planned to be built in Halban by 2017. The group runs wholesale divisions in the markets of Muscat, Sohar, Nizwa, Salalah and Sur. Suhol is also the largest service provider for institutions and the food service sector. Among the famous brands supplied are KFC, Pizza Hut, Subway, Shangri La , Golden Tulip and Crown Plaza.

Retail specialists Suhol handles the entire fruit and vegetable section for its major retail customers, such as Khunji hypermarkets. It provides all the staff and installations, and runs the the supplies and merchandising daily. “We are just renting the space and are running the entire section,” Latheef said. At Khunji hypermarkets, Suhol provides a large assortment of more than 300 items. It also includes local vegetables cultivated in Oman, such as aubergines, okra, capsicums, cucumbers and tomatoes.

“Modern retail chains are generating significant growth for the production business as well,” he said. Indeed, modern retail is growing twice the market average of about 15% every year, and its relative market share within the food retail panorama is still only around 10%. Suhol, for instance, handles the entire category with the fast growing retailer “Anhar Al Fayha,” which is expanding with the launch of other new retail concepts like “Liwa, Bid Bid ad Mabalah” hypermarkets, both opened in 2015. “Anhar Al Fayha is planning to open 5-6 new hypermarkets every year. We are helping them by efficiently handling their fruit and vegetable sections,” Latheef said.

Oman retail panorama, 10% market share


This interview first appeared on page 18 of edition 139 (Sept/Oct 2015) of Eurofresh Distribution magazine. Read more of that issue online by clicking on the magazine image below.