The wheels on the food and drink Dubai bus

Day 2 of the organised Gulfood Northern Powerhouse delegation visit was a day dedicated to retailer visits.

Whilst I admit not being entirely certain of how fruitful they were going to be (I mean we all know about how supermarkets work don’t we?) the day surpassed definitely expectations on a number of levels.

We began with fairly early coach pick up and with no time to waste headed straight over to Carrefour in the Dubai mall.

We were met by the general manager and his team who gave us some interesting facts about the store including it being the Carrefour store with the largest turnover globally, with a 28000 SKU count and handling over 20 000 transactions daily! Again the organic and gluten free segments were highlighted as an important growing category (as well as chocolate paradoxically!)

We then had a store tour, which allowed us to ask plenty of questions relative to our own individual product interests and understand further how their procurement works.

It also gave us the opportunity to do some competitor analysis and look at the brands already on the shelves, which is always useful to do openly (I’ve spent too many times trying to do covert in store market research and it’s not easy!)

Then it was back on the bus for round two at Spinney’s.

Another pleasant welcome by the store market who informed us that Spinney’s currently have 53 stores, including two in Oman. They also operate the 7 Waitrose stores in the UAE (3 in Dubai and 4 in Abu Dhabi)

Again we have a tour round the store – this time by the lovely knowledgeable Mya who answered all my questions and couldn’t have been more helpful!

The final retail stop was at Choithrams, a chain of 40 stores who work with Tesco and who also interestingly have separate distribution and export arms to the business too, as well as diversification in exporting too.

It was great to understand the value of truly British brands as the store manager highlighted a greater rate of sale for products produced in the UK and then imported into the UAE as opposed to the local production of goods under the brand name.

The mcvities at three times the price sells more than the local one on the right:

The final stop was a different proposition: a privileged peek into the mechanics of Emirates Catering facility which serves food for over 250 flights a day and makes circa 150 000 meals daily for its passengers.

Here we are getting ready for the tour:

It was an interesting in depth tour and I was surprised to see just how much of this enormous task is still manual and very labour intensive work.

So what was the highlight of the day?

All the site visits were great and useful. However by far the most valuable part that wasn’t explicitly on the agenda so to speak was the on the bus networking between delegates and the wealth of knowledge and contacts that everyone was willing to share both from a domestic and international basis.

A great buzz around British Brands

There was a really good buzz of activity with most people from big British brands such as Ella’s Kitchen, Seabrook Crisps, Bagel Nash, the London Deli company to name but a few all interacting, talking to one another about their international stories to date and fundamentally trying to help each other succeed.

Tomorrow it’s back to visiting the trade show for me as I decided not to visit the Lulu group and Al Maya chain which was also on offer for the Northern powerhouse delegation.

There’s still time to catch me in Dubai over the next few days for those attending or exhibiting at the show.
Please contact me if interested, you know I love to network and make new valuable connections!

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