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Spar Austria recognised for its Frutura tomato programme

Spar Austria recognised for its Frutura tomato programme


With a turnover of €7.2 billion, food retail brand SPAR holds over one third of the market share in the Austrian food retail market. SPAR Austria’s total turnover reached €15.7 billion in 2019, including contains all of its retail business. “As a full-range retailer, we see it as our responsibility to provide our consumers with sustainable, tasty food,” said Robert Schwaiger of the group’s fruit & vegetables department. SPAR’s sustainable supply chain programme for tasty produce was launched in 2016. This philosophy ensures SPAR customers a consistent taste experience without disappointment. Meanwhile, the group has developed the Frutura greenhouse, which is heated using thermal water. All tomatoes grown in the Frutura greenhouse are harvested at the right moment. “Although this involves considerable extra effort in production, our customers are willing to pay the appropriate price for unconditional quality,” said Schwaiger.

Spirit of partnership with SPAR suppliers

“One of our prime examples of our partnerships with suppliers is the one we have with Frutura, a company based in Styria, Austria. We have been working together with Frutura since its very beginnings,” said Robert. At that time, the company consisted of only three employees: its founders Manfred Hohensinner, Franz Städtler and Hans Schwarzenhofer. Today Frutura posts €300 million in turnover and has approximately 600 employees. It is one of the most innovative and successful fruit and vegetable companies in the German-speaking market.

Visionary idea in a thermal region

Frutura had the visionary idea of building a 260,000 square metre greenhouse in Styria’s thermal region, Bad Blumau. The greenhouse is heated using geothermal energy (125 degrees Celsius thermal water). This project has proved immensely helpful in enabling SPAR to increase its supply of Austrian vegetables. What makes this initiative unique is the fact that not a single litre of thermal water is wasted, as every drop is pumped back into the soil through a second borehole. This demonstrates Frutura’s pioneering spirit in resource saving and sustainable production. “We are sure that other such great projects will be developed in the future in intensive and, above all, honest partnerships with grower suppliers,” said Schwaiger.

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SPAR Gran Canaria partners with local government to support farming sector

SPAR Gran Canaria president, Ángel Medina /// © Canarias7, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria


SPAR Gran Canaria has partnered with the local government (El Cabildo) to create a Programme of Support for local farmers and producers affected by the current pandemic. To mitigate the impact of the closure of hotels and restaurants and the resulting surpluses, SPAR Gran Canaria is directly helping producers in the management and sale of local produce.

During this exceptional state of alarm, SPAR Gran Canaria has committed itself to supporting local communities through its Me Gusta (I like it) initiative. As part of this initiative, SPAR purchases the volume of product it can sell from the surplus of fresh produce that farmers, cheesemakers, and other local producers have available.

SPAR Gran Canaria’s fruit and vegetable logistics centre supports farmers keen to offer fresh local products which meet the quality standards required by the chain. SPAR also encourages its customers to consume fresh produce to support the numerous families working in the sector as well as a healthy lifestyle.

SPAR Gran Canaria president, Ángel Medina, said that SPAR has always supported the sector and that he hopes this philosophy will also be transferred to other brands operating on the Canary Islands in these critical times.

Antonio Morales, president of Gran Canaria’s local government, stressed that this extraordinary support programme in close collaboration with SPAR Gran Canaria will help prevent that the output of many families is wasted. He stated that the collective efforts are already showing results in a crisis of this magnitude.

Among the local producers being supported are the Coparlita Cooperative, San Nicolás, a cooperative of eight members representing 20 families. The cooperative has benefitted from the sale of almost 17,000 kg papaya surplus to SPAR. This has allowed the cooperative to retain its team of employees.

Another beneficiary is Carmen Estupiñán, responsible for the artisan cheese factory El Parral, Ingenio, on which 12 families depend. SPAR Gran Canaria has bought a greater quantity of cheeses from this producer and is also promoting them instore.

Producers interested in contacting SPAR Gran Canaria can do so by email at

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SPAR South Africa’s rural hubs show promise

SPAR South Africa’s rural hubs show promise


Sustainable local supply chains for produce grown in remote areas are at the project’s heart

SPAR South Africa sees small-scale rural farmers as the key to a sustainable future for the vast nation. It believes they can help improve food security, affordability and nutrition for its rural communities. With the Dutch-founded SPAR Group and support from the Dutch government, it has created a rural hub business model based on packhouses serving as mini distribution centres in outlying areas of South Africa. The idea is to develop local supply chains of fresh produce in a cost-efficient and environmentally responsible way. And while its initial two hubs have not been without challenges and are not yet profitable, SPAR South Africa believes “we have created a sustainable model that can be rolled out nationally.”

More rural farmers starting to thrive 

SPAR’s first rural hub was established in Mopani, in Limpopo, South Africa’s northernmost province, in June 2016. It is based on the concept of a central fresh assembly point (FAP), which acts as a collection point for a range of fresh produce sourced from smallholder farmers to supply local SPAR stores within a radius of up to 200 km. SPAR says that over July 2018 / June 2019, 10 farmers/groups supplied the Mopani hub, many of whom could finance a portion of their business themselves for the first time – a sign that they can now stand on their own feet. The hub bought produce worth R1.26 million (≈€80,300) from them, with crops including green beans, baby marrows, butternuts, baby corn, cabbage, watermelon and lettuce. The hub in turn supplied 41 customers, most of which were SPAR stores, and in the past year sold more produce to informal traders, something seen as a significant development. A second rural hub business was established in Ikhwezi, in the northeastern province of Mpumalanga, in October 2017, with a group of 36 smallholder farmers. Over the same period, the Ikhwezi hub purchased produce worth R1.16 million (≈€74,000) from 24 farmers. Crops included tomatoes, cabbage, butternut, green beans, bitter melon, lettuce and sweet potatoes. The packhouse supplied 27 customers, most of which were SPAR stores.

Overcoming challenges

SPAR chairman Mike Hankinson says the rural hub project shows early signs of being financially sustainable for a group of small emerging farmers, but there was a need to find new ways for the economics around delivery and packing to make sense. One challenge was that low-margin products, such as cabbage and spinach, continued to be sourced by local SPAR stores directly from smallholder farmers in close proximity to the stores. However, many of these small businesses were at risk as they lacked food safety accreditation to sell their produce directly to stores. Routing these products through the FAPs, on the other hand, incurred unnecessary transport and handling costs. To address such issues, SPAR has developed a model to transport certain produce directly from farmer to store, while other items are distributed through the central FAP. Also, the farmers have received food safety training in order to get local.g.a.p certification, and technology solutions were introduced to help farmers grow high value crops and extend their growing seasons, thereby improving their sustainability. “We remain committed to the concept of rural farmers supplying fresh produce to SPAR stores. It has the potential to provide employment, grow rural economies, ensure food security and improve nutrition, while reducing transport costs for SPAR, shorten lead times, and increase freshness and shelf life,” Hankinson said.

SPAR South Africa acts as a supermarket supplier

Established in 1963, SPAR South Africa grants licences to independent retailers to operate stores under one of four formats, with almost all of its current store portfolio independently owned. “The SPAR Group in Southern Africa acts as a wholesaler distributing the entire range of goods stocked by a typical supermarket, including fresh produce,” SPAR South Africa fresh food manager Peter Gohl told ED. “We supply a range of about 450 fresh produce products to about 850 independently owned and managed SPAR retail stores through 6 strategically located distribution centres. Excluding our SPAR Group Ltd European and UK/Irish holdings, the Southern Africa turnover in fresh produce amounted to about €320 million over the past 12 months. Of this, the fruit category contributed €130 million and imports in the fruit category amounted to €28 million,” he said.


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Polish retailer Piotr i Paweł enters into cooperation with Spar Group 


Successful cooperation between retailers guarantees good profits, further development and increased brand awareness.


Retailer Piotr i Paweł is to join forces with the Spar Group Ltd. As in previous seasons, the retailers are developing their F&V segment so that every customer visiting their stores can find the tastes they are seeking. “In autumn 2019, in line with our new slogan ‘Inspirations’, we promoted a selection of produce, such as red grapefruit from Turkey, pineapple from Costa Rica, and Polish potatoes in various colours. We also promoted our products with the logo ‘Always Quality’ and offered many organic products,” said Tomasz Syller, managing director of Spar. Piotr i Paweł is also well-known for the high-class products that clients can find at its stores across the whole country. 

Joining forces
to reach a bigger target 

Spar has 70 shops in 65 towns in Poland but is planning to increase the number of outlets to 150 by the end of 2020. The average sales area is 1,100 m², with an assortment of 37,000 articles. The number of own-label products has increased to 1,200 items in the various categories. Once Piotr i Pawel joins forces with Spar Group Ltd., both retailers will be better placed to compete against other retailers by offering products that are often unavailable in the Polish market and at lower prices. “Fruits and vegetables account for about 8% of all our products. In 2019 up to November, our fruit and vegetables sales were worth over 120 million zlotys,” said Tomasz Syller, who states that in Poland, there is a trend to purchase organic fruits and vegetables, especially among young and middle-aged professionals. “Moreover, we are trying to offer our customers lesser known vegetables, like topinambur or pitahaya. We’ll sell these rarities in many of our outlets in various regions of our country,” said Syller.

Great potential will be generated by the partnership between Piotr i Paweł and Spar Group Ltd. “Our main target is to supply come over €11 million worth of products each year by making our shops more attractive for our customers. We now plan to build new markets in medium-sized towns. In Warsaw alone, we have five supermarkets and we plan to open new ones,” said Syller.

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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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Spar opens recruitment office in Hungary

Retail chain Spar opens its first recruitment office in Hungary, where it has nearly 500 stores, employs 13,000 people.

Retail chain Spar says a sign of its long-term plans in Hungary is the opening of its first recruitment office in the country.

Located in Budapest, the office is a pilot and if proved successful, more such recruitment centres will be opened in the country, Spar said in a press release.

Spar Hungary now has close to 500 stores across the country and currently employs 13,000 people there.

Source: Spar

Read more articles about Spar here.

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Spar consolidates its presence in China

Spar is an international group of independently owned and operated retailers and wholesalers joined together under the Spar brand. It comprises more than 12,000 stores in 42 countries on four continents.

Global food retail chain Spar continues to expand in China, with two new 24-hour convenience stores opened recently in the central province of Henan.

Both stores were opened on the same day in Henan and are 210m2 and 110m2 in size respectively.

“Despite the compact selling area, the stores offer shoppers a good variety of products including fresh fruits and vegetables, a frozen food section, drinks and snacks, as well as non-food items,” Spar said in a media release.

Meanwhile, in the North China province of Shanxi, Spar said it has partnered with local farmers to source over 10,000 kg of vegetables, thus reinforcing its support for the local agricultural sector and the enhancement of rural communities.

“Without Spar Shanxi’s business, many of the farmers would not have access to the retail market. This partnership with Spar has helped the farmers sell their produce, providing them with much needed financial support,” Spar said.

“Spar Shanxi has reinforced its support for local farmers.”

The products are delivered directly to Spar stores in Shanxi province and promoted with strong instore advertising. Spar Shanxi has set quality standards for the produce to ensure that customers not only get the freshest vegetables but are also confident of the quality, it said.

Elsewhere in China, over 600 retailers and suppliers recently attended a key supplier meeting hosted by Spar Shandong. With the theme “Move Forward Together”, the event was designed to discuss opportunities and strategies for development in China’s ever-evolving marketplace, such as supply chain reform.

Spar Shandong’s key supplier meeting

Spar is an international group of independently owned and operated retailers and wholesalers joined together under the Spar brand. It comprises more than 12,000 stores in 42 countries on four continents.

Top photo: Daily fresh produce in one of Spar Henan’s new stores (source: Spar)

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SPAR Portugal hits 100-store mark

Ten years after opening its first store, SPAR Portugal has reached the 100-store mark. To achieve this fantastic milestone, the business opened four stores in one day in April 2016.

Within a decade of opening its first store, SPAR Portugal has reached the 100-store milestone, helping the feat along by opened four stores in one day in April this year.

And Spar says it has ongoing plans for expansion in the country, with warehouse expansion currently in progress to support it.

In a press release, SPAR Portugal said its goal is to develop a network of SPAR supermarkets throughout Portugal’s mainland and islands.

“SPAR has been able to expand into new cities and regions over the past few years by working with independent retailers keen to partner with SPAR Portugal, thereby enabling them to offer a retail brand which their customers recognise. The majority of stores are located in the popular tourist destinations of Lisbon, the Algarve, Madeira and the Azores, with a presence also seen in key mainland markets.”

It also said a major development has been the investment in company owned stores. This  initiative started in 2014 and there are now 19 company owned stores operating in Portugal which “act as flagships for the SPAR Brand and for independent retailer recruitment and the trialling of new SPAR products.”

SPAR Portugal has acquired an additional 12 AliSuper stores, all located in the Algarve which are being converted to the SPAR Neighborhood format. “The stores in the Algarve will concentrate on the tourist market with strong ranges of imported and seasonal products. By expanding the number of company-owned SPAR Supermarkets, there is greatly increased brand visibility in this growing market,” SPAR said.

“Attention is also being given to developing new concepts such as Treehouse© Juice Bars, SPAR Cafés, and an extended Food-to-Go offer.”

Improving warehouse capabilities

To meet the requirements of the rapidly expanding business, SPAR Portugal now has a new 6,000m2 warehouse in Alverca Lisbon, “which resulted in an immediate improvement in operational processes and enabled continuous growth” and will help the business “continue to grow in store numbers and assortment.”

Future development plans include the installation of a centralised chilled operations system for the warehouse, as well as the establishment of a regional warehouse on the Azores, which is currently being planned with the SPAR International team, it said.

Source: SPAR International

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SPAR International: retail sales growth of 1.2% to €31.86bn

Expansion into new territories helped SPAR International achieve a like-for-like sales increase of 1.2% on 2013 to €31.86 billion last year.

Expansion into new territories helped SPAR International achieve a like-for-like sales increase of 1.2% on 2013 to €31.86 billion last year.

The Amsterdam-based retail chain said performance highlights for 2014 included:

  • accelerated growth of SPAR in China, with retail sales up 25% year on year to €1.78 billion,
  • acceleration also in Russia, with sales up 33% in local currency terms to 75 billion roubles,
  • Austria, the largest SPAR country, saw retail sales rise 1.9% to €5.91 billion,
  • South Africa continued its excellent growth path with a 7.8% gain in local currency,
  • SPAR was the fastest growing supermarket chain in Norway with a sales increase of 5.8% in own currency to c1.49 billion.

SPAR poised for further expansion in 2015

Gordon Campbell, will step down as managing director at the end of the year, said SPAR is positioned for sustained expansion in 2015. “The strong performance in core SPAR countries such as Austria, South Africa and the United Kingdom combined with the impressive growth in retail sales in Russia and China, give confidence in the continued growth and expansion of the SPAR business. Despite what remains a challenging operating environment for many of our partners we can be confident that the momentum will be maintained in 2015 and beyond,” he said.

According to the SPAR International Annual Report 2014, in constant currency values, its worldwide sales grew by 2% last year, which it said was an “excellent result in the context of the economic downturn.”

“We see evidence of a return to growth in many Western European markets, while Eastern Europe continues to offer opportunities. When this is combined with the continuing success in entering new countries such as the re-entry to India and the opening of SPAR in Indonesia, we can be confident that the momentum will be maintained in 2015 and beyond,” it said.

Spar’s first fully automated fruit & vegetables facility

Also in the report, SAR said that in Norway, its partner has started the build for the first fully automated facility for fruit and vegetables in the SPAR world. “The move toward centralised and automated fresh distribution is the next step towards achieving their goal of 100% of product supplied to retailers,” it said.

The report said 2014 saw the opening by SPAR Retail, Belgium, of a 48,000m² state-of-the-art distribution centre in Mechelen featuring automated handling for fruit and vegetables.

Spar key figures

2014 sales: €31.8bn
Retail stores: 12,314 in 40 countries on 4 continents
New territories entered in 2014: Asia (Indonesia and India), Africa (Angola and Malawi), Eastern Europe (Georgia), + new partners in Russia & China
Biggest stores: in India, an average of 4,470m2
Biggest retail sales area: SPAR Austria – 1.1 million m2
Newest member: Azerbaijan

SPAR press release:
SPAR 2014 annual report: