Independent SPAR Netherlands retailer meeting today’s challenges

March 27, 2023 IN THE CATEGORY: Feature articles

SPAR Netherlands retailers Edwin and Diana van Holland cater to a strong younger customer base and changing shopping behaviours, adding local value in Glashaven, Rotterdam. The SPAR convenience supermarket is located on the ground floor of a recently opened apartment block for students within walking distance of the Erasmus University in Rotterdam. SPAR Glashaven offers a unique shopping experience that is specifically tailored to its customers’ needs.

Post-Pandemic Challenges

Edwin and Diana have a positive outlook for their store but retailing during the pandemic was not without its challenges. Today, with price increases across the board resulting from energy, cost of living, and inflationary pressures, retailers are facing increased difficulty even post-pandemic, Edwin said.

The viability of retailers resulting from the quadrupling in energy prices within a short period of time is a major concern, particularly for independent retailers, unable to benefit from any aid due to local legislation.

Staff shortages, particularly high across the hospitality and retail sectors, have affected SPAR Glashaven, with the team decreasing from 20 colleagues to 10 (last November) and now down to just six. The shortage of colleagues experienced by the industry since the pandemic meant that online services also had to pivot, making it harder to offer the delivery services the retailers pride themselves on. Online ordering has decreased as a growing number of customers prefer to shop in person, attracted by the Tosti Club offer and coffee corner available in this store. Diana has a particular focus on the food service offering and is delighted that their investment in this area is attracting office workers and students back into the store.

By working closely together, the team ensures that the SPAR store remains open seven days a week. It is the retail couple’s energy and passion for their store that keeps them going, as expressed by Edwin during an interview with SPAR International.

Catering to their customers

In a post-COVID-19 world, there has been a strong shift to online shopping as experienced by SPAR Glashaven. The consumer can now order almost everything which is offered in the shop online, either for delivery or collection. Due to the proximity to the university, the younger customer of SPAR Glashaven puts convenience above all else. Products that can be made quickly, but are still relatively healthy, provide an easy option for students on-the-go.

The SPAR Glashaven retailer, Edwin van Holland, has taken the time to get to know his consumers’ needs. Going above and beyond to help improve the shopping experience instore and anticipating what young adults would want when shopping is a part of his daily life. Taking into account that this shopper group is the core of the store’s customer base, the retailer experiments with food lines to meet their needs. For example, Edwin offers a selection of different soups at a sample stand to draw in the younger shopper.

Community Spirit

SPAR Glashaven has successfully embedded itself in the local community and gives back in many ways. Convenience stores are becoming more than just neighbourhood supermarkets, they are becoming a one-stop-shop to meet all the consumer’s needs. With the introduction of online shopping, students and young shoppers can save time during their busy days by reducing the time spent on grocery purchases. The retailer has not forgotten about the store’s older customer demographic, although they are not the core customer. Every fortnight on Tuesdays, SPAR Glashaven hosts a coffee hour for the neighbourhood, in cooperation with the Rotterdam Municipality, where elderly shoppers can gather and socialise while enjoying coffee and cake. This is just one way that Edwin and Diana give back to the community.

A pleasant surprise for Edwin van Holland was the willingness of SPAR Glashaven customers to also give back to the store. A regular customer of SPAR Glashaven named Helma, who is 64 years of age, saw how hard the staff was working so she asked if she could do anything to help. She now works as a volunteer and helps keep shelves tidy. The community surrounding SPAR Glashaven has not forgotten to give back to the shop that works tirelessly for them.

Source: SPAR Netherlands

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About SPAR Netherlands

The SPAR Brand was founded in the Netherlands in 1932 by the Dutch wholesaler Adriaan van Well and 16 independent retailers. It was established as a voluntary chain of grocers under the name DESPAR – an acronym of a slogan created by van Well to describe the organisation: Door Eendrachtig Samenwerken Profiteren Allen Regelmatig, which translates in English to All benefit from joint co-operation regularly.

The Head Office and Distribution Centre are in Waalwijk, from where support is provided for stores operating throughout the country. Different store formats meet the needs of customers at all times of day. Over 450 stores are open across the country, with a strong focus on providing convenience in all its forms.


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