Family and entrepreneurship: Magdalena and Jacek Ślusarczyk,  SPAR Poland

February 1, 2019 IN THE CATEGORY: Feature articles

Persistence in pursuing one’s dreams is a quality that is essential in running a business. The story of Magdalena and Jacek Ślusarczyk from Poland, who opened their first SPAR store after working abroad in Ireland to save money and gain retail experience, perfectly illustrates how drive and perseverance can result in a story of success.

Insight and inspiration 

The time spent in Ireland provided Magdalena and Jacek with invaluable insight into retail trends in the west and gave them all the inspiration they needed to make the right investment decisions once returning home to Poland.

Not keen to take too many risks, Magdalena and Jacek were eager to make the best use of the money they had saved whilst working abroad: “We spent eight years in the south of Ireland,” said Magdalena. “We left Poland with a very particular goal in mind, to earn enough money to come back home and start our own business – specifically a grocery store.

“It wasn’t easy; we had to start from scratch, washing dishes and doing other similar entry level type jobs. After some time working in the retail sector, we gradually worked our way up from assistant to managerial positions. Having worked in so many different roles, we were able to gain a full understanding of all aspects of the grocery store business.”

Choosing to partner with SPAR 

As soon as Magdalena and Jacek returned to Poland, they began looking for a strong and reliable organisation with which to partner. “Comparing the offers of many retail companies, we came to the conclusion that SPAR was the perfect fit for us, providing the most transparent business dealings and most attractive product offerings and prices.

“We were already familiar with the SPAR Brand from our time in Ireland, where we used to do a lot of our shopping at SPAR Supermarkets. We were always impressed by the great product ranges, attractive instore designs and the excellent customer service.

“After our return to Poland, we realised how globally recognisable the brand was – something that greatly appealed to us. We wanted to partner with a company that would be flexible with regards to our specific needs and that could be tailored to fit the local environment. We were also impressed with the policy of SPAR Poland – their approachable manner and their enthusiasm in supporting local entrepreneurs and first-time store owners. This supportive approach was extremely important to us and is what won us over in the end. We want to carry this attitude through in the way we work, providing exceptional customer service and supporting our local community where possible.”

During their time in Ireland, the Ślusarczyks were able to observe the local retail environment up close and gained some valuable insights: “The learnings we have taken from the SPAR stores we visited in Ireland can be seen in our own store. For instance, we have paid a lot of attention to good instore communication and creating a friendly and welcoming atmosphere. We have already seen that this approach pays off. Even though we haven’t been open for very long, we have already built up a loyal customer base. We feel part of the neighbourhood, part of the community.”

Magdalena and Jacek’s neighbourhood SPAR store in Dabrowa Szlachecka was opened in March this year. The hero categories and products are sourced from local suppliers and producers and include: the fruit & veg department, the meat & cold-cuts counter, and the bakery section. The offer is appreciated by customers and is in line with SPAR Poland’s strategy of supporting local businesses and producers.

In terms of future plans, the possibility of opening more SPAR stores is certainly an option. First however, the couple have their hearts set on starting up a catering company that will also help supply their SPAR store.

Asked what else they brought with them from their time in Ireland, they both said the belief and drive to succeed: “As far as we’re concerned, it’s really worth pursuing your dreams. We are very lucky to say that the reality of how things turned out even exceeded our expectations,” said Jacek.

This feature was first published in Issue 4 2018 of our quarterly magazine, Contact International.

To read more stories from this edition, follow this link.