Future of convenience: SPAR UK to invest £125 million over the next 12 months

June 1, 2021 IN THE CATEGORY: Own Brand and Suppliers, Responsible retailing

SPAR UK is investing £125 million (€145.38 million) in the business over the next 12 months to maintain its lead in the convenience market. SPAR UK has reported sales of +8.5% year-over-year-over-year (YOYOY to 4 weeks ended 28 March 2021). Sales growth has been achieved from bigger baskets (+31%) and changes in the mix and pack sizes.

Despite the challenges of operating through the COVID-19 pandemic, SPAR UK stores were consistently there for customers. Stores also partnered with multiple charities to ensure communities had access to essential items especially delivering to the vulnerable. SPAR UK supports its national charity partner, Marie Curie, by fundraising and has already distributed over one million pieces of PPE to Marie Curie Nurses. 

Collaborative strength

Speaking at the SPAR UK virtual conference held on 27 May 2021, SPAR UK Managing Director, Louise 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.”

“SPAR is the most compelling and competitive convenience proposition in the UK. We are part of the world’s largest food retail voluntary chain and benefit from best practice sharing. Our brand is distinctive. By using data, we have a modern approach to delivering profitable store formats and propositions. Our marketing and digital activity is driving consumer consideration, footfall, and increasing basket spend.”

SPAR UK sees its future in local as consumers choose to shop locally in stores owned by independent retailers. 

“Our core strength is in our store locations, our independence and the entrepreneurial spirit of our retailers. Last year was a year that saw accelerated growth as a result of the dedication and focus of our colleagues. Therefore, we are going to support them by investing £125 million in our business in the year ahead.” 

“We will invest £100 million in stores, and we will invest £25 million in improving our supply chain and IT capability – everything from depots to vans and electric bikes for home delivery. The potential is huge,” she said. “Collectively, we adapted, and it has made us better and stronger.”

Sustained expansion

Expansion continued throughout the UK with over 300 new SPAR stores and refits, offering an excellent customer proposition.

A great supply chain was maintained throughout the pandemic as SPAR, and all five wholesalers worked collaboratively with suppliers across all functions to supply stores with exceptional availability. As a result, the symbol group stayed on top of sales growth. In addition, SPAR UK made made unique changes in ranges and pack sizes to accommodate customer needs. 

During the year, a lot of work has been done on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). For example, SPAR UK saved 13 million own label coloured plastic caps from soft drinks bottles going to landfill. The group also introduced narrow necks on drinking bottles saving 32 tonnes of virgin plastic, rolled out the Too Good To Go app to stores, joined The Plastic Pact, and signed up to the BRC Climate Action Roadmap. 

Acceleration in an online proposition, whether through individual retailer activity or with third parties, has brought a new customer base to stores.

Hoste added: “This is our seventh year of continuous growth and a strong platform to demonstrate how our strategy delivers sustainable growth.” 

“SPAR is the leading convenience symbol group in the UK and the only proposition for independent retailers looking for a profitable future”, she added. “SPAR has shown great resilience with developments in retail, own label and across our supply chain. We have proven how adaptable we are. We look to benefit from our scale whilst adding value to the local communities we serve. The future in convenience is with SPAR.”

Source: SPAR UK

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The UK became a SPAR member in 1956 when SPAR International granted the SPAR licence to a group of independent wholesalers. There are now five regional partners in the UK. A central office in London provides national marketing and buying services for the group. 

SPAR has led the highly competitive convenience market in the UK for many years. Always innovative, the five regional partners have continued to grow the brand. SPAR UK comprises independently owned licensed retailers and company-owned stores. These include forecourts, airports, train stations, city centres, and local neighbourhood stores. 

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