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Spinneys Logo

Spinneys is a supermarket chain in the Middle East which began as railway provision merchants, and expanded to a grocery firm importing British Empire goods to the Mandate Palestine.[1] The largest shareholder and manager of the brand is the Dubai-based private equity firm The Abraaj Group. Before 1950, they operated a meat and sausage factory, with a slaughterhouse, in Haifa, near to the harbour.


Logo used in the U.A.E
Spinney's Mineral Water Factory Acre, 1941

The supermarket was founded by Arthur Rawdon Spinney (CBE), who, having served in the Staffordshire Yeomanry[2] and later on the staff of General Allenby,[3] set up operations in the suburbs of Alexandria, Egypt in 1924, which initially formed and organized the provision department of the Palestine Railways.[4] He took over transporting contract to Mandate Palestine administration from two pioneering New Zealanders, Norman & Gerald Nairn, who established the first cross-desert bus service between Damascus & Baghdad following the First World War.[5]

Setting up his import and shipping headquarters in Haifa, he later sold imported English goods from the Jaffa Road store, which were then a novelty in Mandate Palestine and Syria through his two companies Spinney's Ltd., and Full-worth Ltd.,[6] which contrasted with local merchants who only sold goods sourced from the region and were unfamiliar to the British living and serving there. His commercial position, and involvement with the Palestine Commissioner allowed him to also hold the post of a trustee for Haifa early in the Second World War.[7] During the Second World War Rawdon Spinney also served as the Hungarian Consul General in Palestine,[8] having moved house to Jerusalem, with two stores operated at the Spinney's (Spinney's Ltd., Haifa) Greek Colony branch, and Mamillah Road premises until 1949.[9]

Initially Spinneys branches were located in the major regional cities frequented by British subjects via the railway line: Alexandria, Cairo, Haifa, Acre where it operated the Kabri Mineral Factory[10][11] and Damascus. Since mid-1920s Haifa branch, where Spinney married Cecil Joan Glegg in 1928, and was later the President of The Haifa Rotary Club,[12] also served as agents for Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company Traders & Shippers Ltd.[13] Due to interruption to railway services,[14] on which Spinneys depended, with the start of the 1936–1939 Arab revolt in Palestine it moved its Haifa branch, from Mandate Palestine to Baghdad.

Mr Spinney joined the UK establishment when his daughter Elisabeth married John Slim, 2nd Viscount Slim in 1958 in London.

In the 1960s Rawdon Spinney retired from active participation in the managing of the stores, and died in August 1973 in Littlehampton, Sussex, where he was buried in the Crematorium.[15]

After the 14 July Revolution, its Baghdad store was relocated in 1961 to Dubai, UAE where it had operated since 1942 in Al Nasr Square, Deira. In later years other stores were opened across Arab states of the Persian Gulf region.[16] In 1967 the first Spinneys store in Beirut was open.


As of 2011, the Spinneys Group Limited is a premium supermarket retailer in the Middle East, and operates hypermarkets and supermarkets in one store in Qatar, eleven stores in Lebanon, three stores in Egypt, two in Jordan and through franchise agreements, 30 Spinneys stores in the UAE - 21 in Dubai, 5 in Sharjah, 2 in Ajman, 4 in Abu Dhabi, 1 in Al ain in the United Arab Emirates. In 2007, the chain announced an "aggressive expansion" programme across the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia (MENASA) region.[17] Since 2006 Spinneys Group CEO is Michael Wright.

Plans to open two hypermarkets in Libya, one at end 2011, and one at end 2012,[18] have been halted due to the 2011 Libyan civil war. Ambitious plans to open many stores spanning from the Maghreb to Kazakhstan, including 12 stores in Egypt by 2012[19] have been called into question due to the ongoing Arab Spring.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Dubai FAQs information guide - Spinneys
  2. ^ George Colin Lawder Bertram, Antarctica, Cambridge, conservation and population: a biologist's story, G.C.L. Bertram, 1987, p.28
  3. ^ Meir Shalev, Barbara Harshav, Esau: a novel, Harper Collins Publishers, 1994, p.19
  4. ^ The Near and Middle East who's who, Near and Middle East Who's Who Publ. Co., 1947, p.256
  5. ^ John Murchison Munro, The Nairn way: desert bus to Baghdad, Caravan Books, 1980, p.88
  6. ^ The Near and Middle East who's who, Near and Middle East Who's Who Publ. Co., 1947, p.256
  7. ^ Great Britain and the East: Volume 55, 1940, p297
  8. ^ List of accessions to repositories, H.M. Stationery Off., 1972, p.90
  9. ^ Gillian Grant, ed., Historical Photographs of the Middle East From the Middle East Centre, St. Antony’s College, Oxford, Catalogue, BRILL, 1985, p.33
  10. ^ The Jewish review, Volume 3, Jewish Teachers' Seminary and People's University, New York, 1945, p.252
  11. ^ High quality mineral water used to make soda water; Ruth Gruber, Israel without tears, 1950, p.48
  12. ^ Watson, J.L.A., ed., Rotary Report from Haifa, Israel: Jewish, Arab, and British members still meet despite machine guns, grenades, and the cross fire of snipers, The Rotarian, Vol. 74, No. 3, March 1949, Rotary International, p.7
  13. ^ Orbis, encyclopaedia of extra-European countries: a survey and directory of political, industrial, financial, cultural and scientific organisations in the countries of Africa, America, Asia and Australasia, Europa publications limited, 1938, p.41
  14. ^ Deborah Bernstein, Constructing boundaries: Jewish and Arab workers in mandatory Palestine, SUNY Press, 2000, p.168
  15. ^ Gleggs from Todstack Farm Stonehaven
  16. ^ Spinneys - History
  17. ^ "Spinneys successfully completes first phase of US$180 million fundraising programme". 2 July 2007. Retrieved 4 January 2011.
  18. ^ http://www.dubaifaqs.com/spinneys.php Spinneys Dubai
  19. ^ http://www.abraaj.com/english/mediacenter/Files/spinneys-group.pdf Business Close-up: Spinneys Group

External links[edit]