SPAR Portugal: A story of success in a difficult market

December 3, 2015 IN THE CATEGORY: Store openings

  • Luis da Bernarda, Managing Director of SPAR Portugal, at the national retailers meeting in October 2015

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The licence to operate the SPAR Brand in Portugal was granted in 2006, completing the presence of the brand in Western Europe. Following an extensive programme of learning from existing SPAR Partners, the first stores opened in late 2007. Nearly 10 years on, there are now a total of 90 SPAR Supermarkets in Portugal, with the SPAR Partner well on its way to opening its 100th store.

The SPAR stores in Portugal are predominantly convenience-focused, neighbourhood stores of around 400m2 in size. Despite tough economic conditions, growth has been steady with the last three years seeing the most rapid development. More recently, opportunities have arisen to develop larger stores of up to 1,000m2 in size that have a modern look and feel.

The goal of SPAR Portugal is to develop a network of SPAR Supermarkets throughout the country. SPAR has been able to expand into new cities and regions over the past few years by working with independent retailers keen to have a retail format that consumers 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.

A major development has been to invest in company-owned stores ­­– an initiative that started in 2014. There are now 19 company-owned stores in operation in the country. These stores act as flagships for the SPAR Brand and for independent retailer recruitment and the trialling of products. Attention is also being given to developing new concepts such as Kitsu© Noodle Bars, Treehouse© Juice Bars, SPAR Cafés, and an extended Food-to-Go offer.

The SPAR business in Portugal has been supported by the expansion of the Distribution Centre (DC) based in Alverca. Supplying over 3,000 Stock Keeping Units (SKUs), the DC, currently 3,000m2 in size, is being re-developed in partnership with SPAR International, thereby benefiting from international best practice. SPAR Portugal will invest in a new location where the DC will increase in size to 6,000mto meet growing demand from the retailers.

In recent years, there has been a growth in the number of Private Label Products, which now total more than 1,250 SKUs. Many of the products are sourced from SPAR International and SPAR Spain, helping to meet the needs of tourists who appreciate large product variety. The business also supports SPAR Angola by providing Portuguese-labelled SPAR Private Label products.

In October, SPAR International representatives including Managing Director, Dr Gordon Campbell, Business Development Manager, David Moore and Tom Rose, Head of Supply Chain, attended SPAR Portugal’s national retailer meeting. More than 50 retailers were present at the meeting in which the new DC development project was reviewed. In addition to the presentation sessions, delegates also had the opportunity to visit the existing DC and a number of SPAR stores.

The market in Portugal remains difficult, with low disposable income and reduced tourist numbers. Despite the tough economic conditions, SPAR Portugal has managed to maintain progress and grow the business, moving steadily towards its 100th store in less than 10 years.