Spain's giant retail chain El Corte Ingles enters the Israeli market with the participation of Super-Sol, Israel's largest supermarket chain, aiming to jointly establish a new, countrywide chain based on the concept of the Spanish mega company of sectionalised product display.

El Corte Inglés operates 80 stores throughout Spain, and recently expanded its business to Portugal where it established in Lisbon a department store at an investment of US$90m. The Spanish chain registers annual sales returns of approximately US$10bn and nets annual profits of US$400m.

According to a report in Maariv, Super-Sol management which initiated the entry of the Spanish chain to Israel, intends to utilise the joint venture in order to expand its business by offering a wide range of products, in addition to food and food-related products. Super-Sol operates 159 stores in Israel and in the first nine months of 2001, it reported sales returns amounting to 4.83bn shekels (US$1.15bn).

Trade sources in Tel Aviv commented that the decision of the Spanish company to establish business in Israel was partly influenced by the success on the local market of two other, albeit non-food Spanish retail chains - Zara and Mango.

By Aaron Priel, just-food.com correspondent