Conference hears of success despite Covid
DESPITE the challenges of operating through the Covid pandemic, Spar managing director, Louise Hoste, said stores were consistently there for customers.
She delivered this message to an invited audience at the Spar virtual conference, when she reported that the group is to invest £125m in the next 12 months to retain its share in the convenience market.
Of the total, £100m will be spent on stores and £25m on supply chain and IT.
Headlines from the conference were that sales were up 8.5% year-over-year-over-year (YOYOY) to the four-week period that ended on 28 March 2021 and that growth has been achieved from bigger baskets, up by 31%.
Our independent retailers, store and wholesale colleagues are our real heroes of the last 12 months. They were consistently there for our customers.
It was also reported that Spar own brand is now worth over £350m a year and is the twentieth biggest food brand in the UK.
Corporate social responsibility was also high on the agenda, with Spar revealing that over the year, it saved 13 million own-label coloured plastic cups from soft drinks bottles from going to landfill.
The group also introduced narrow necks on drinking bottles, saving 32 tonnes of virgin plastic.
Conference attendees also heard that expansion has continued throughout the UK with over 300 new stores and refits within the group.
According to Spar, a major redevelopment of the store at Carnon Downs in Cornwall is pointing the way for the next generation of stores.
The revamped store will have a strong focus on provenance, and a wide range of local Cornish products across many categories, along with an up-front butchery counter and emphasis on the store’s reputation for fresh and chilled produce.
There will be a refill station section where customers can bring their own containers and buy loose products such as nuts, cereals, pulses, rice and flour.
Addressing the conference, Hoste said: “Our response to the Covid-19 pandemic highlighted the collaborative strength of Spar and the critical role of independent community retailing.
“Our independent retailers, store and wholesale colleagues are our real heroes of the last 12 months. They were consistently there for our customers.
“Our entire network worked extremely hard to navigate the way through the pandemic and as a result of hard work and dedication; we were able to supply stores with exceptional service in order to provide colleagues and consumers with a safe place to work and shop.”