Local Champion: Per Irgens Skjerdal, SPAR Norway

July 16, 2020 IN THE CATEGORY: People

In our quarterly magazine, Contact International, we proudly feature as our Local Champion Per Irgens Skjerdal. Per runs a store in Aurland, southern Norway, and was featured in a celebrated SPAR Norway commercial. In addition to being a proud retailer, Per is a regional and national representative in the SPAR Norway Merchant Council. He also joined the SPAR International Executive Guild in 2019. Being a retailer, Per explains, is not just a profession; it is a way of life.

How long have you been involved in retailing?
I have been involved in retailing all my life. The store was founded in 1902 by my great-grandfather and has been in the family ever since. In 1993, when SPAR entered the Norwegian market, the family store was one of the first in the country to join the brand. I started helping in the store at the age of three, and although I was probably more work than help, I took it very seriously. I worked for some years in tourism and marketing, but for the last 14 years, I have been in the store full time.

How do you differentiate yourself from the competition?
You need the basics, of course – decent inventory, a suitable marketing plan, as well as good products and prices. But these alone are not enough to win or keep customers. To win, you need passion. Passion for food, for your employees, for your customers, and for your local community. You need to realise that being a true merchant means that retailing is not a job; it’s a way of life.

SPAR is the supermarket chain in Norway with the highest percentage of independent retailers. Quite a few of these are second, third, or fourth-generation retailers. And when your business has been in the family for generations, this passion becomes a part of you from an early age. The store is no longer just a source of income – it’s a family member.

Once the store has become a family member, you endure, grow, and develop no matter what comes your way. Both your employees and your customers know that this is not a short-term, high-profit game for you, and this gives them trust, loyalty, and security. The most valuable investment you can make in your store is your people. Let them share your passion, let them shine, let them be all that they can be.

To read the rest of the article, first published in our quarterly magazine Contact International, click here.

To read more stories from the publication which celebrates SPAR success around the globe, please follow this link.

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