Talking shop with Dutch independent retailers

February 8, 2019 IN THE CATEGORY: Feature articles

In addition to expanding its portfolio of SPAR Express stores at filling stations throughout the country, SPAR Netherlands has been rolling out its next generation neighbourhood store format, whilst growing its SPAR city network nationwide. We interviewed three independent retailers – two SPAR city store owners and one neighbourhood store owner – to reflect on the changing retail market.

SPAR city store, Breda:

Young independent SPAR retailer, Djordy de Nooijer, opened his first SPAR store two years ago at just 23 years of age. He knew early on that he wanted to run his own business – entrepreneurship, he says, is in his blood. Djordy runs a 406m2 SPAR city store in Breda, in the south of the country.

Key Departments: “The store focuses on the convenience needs of local consumers, offering quick breakfast options, tasty snacks, healthy lunch ranges and everything else they need for top-up shopping. The diversity of our fresh department is fantastic, from locally sourced, freshly baked bread, to hot snacks, sandwiches and freshly made smoothies.”

Product offer: “We put a lot of time into finding products that our customers can’t find elsewhere – this helps to set us apart from other stores in the area. In the bakery department for example, we offer products from the region supplied by our local bakery. Recently, I launched a specialty beer on the market together with a colleague. It is a SPAR Tripel beer brewed on pinewood shreds. SPAR Netherlands has now included the beer in its product range and it will soon be available in all SPAR stores in the country.”

Responsible retailing instore: “We separate all waste instore. By recording and keeping track of everything, we try to keep food waste as low as possible. Customers are also encouraged to make use of our recycle bins and they can return used batteries, lamps and electrical appliances to us for proper recycling.”

Instore innovations: “An important development in the store is our focus on key eating moments. We make a distinction between morning, afternoon, lunch and evening moments – responding to this trend and drawing in customers with various promotions and deals.”

SPAR city store, Leeuwarden:

Mathijs Faassen has been working in the supermarket world for 18 years and opened his first SPAR store just over a year ago. His is a SPAR city store located in the centre of Leeuwarden, the 2018 European Capital of Culture. Especially popular in his store are the freshly prepared sandwiches, which bring in substantial lunch-time traffic.

Product offer: “A large number of our customers are what we call NOW customers, who purchase grab-and-go, ready-to-eat products. As such, we offer many products for immediate consumption, such as smoothies, snacks, yogurts, sandwiches and pizzas. We source the bulk of our products from SPAR Netherlands, but also offer local items such as Frisian beer and sausages, and bread from a local baker who supplies us with many Frisian specialties.”

Responsible retailing instore: “Together with SPAR Netherlands, we are looking at implementing responsible packaging instore. We are also very conscientious about recycling and minimising waste, and we recently started offering unsold products to the local food bank.”

Customer base: “Our store is visited by a diverse group of customers, but our most frequent are students and city workers. We make use of a lot of promotions, aimed at our target groups. For example, we often surprise lunch-time visitors with fun, value-for-money promotions. We also sponsor many student activities.”

Future plans: “We are experiencing good growth and I would love to grow my retail portfolio and have multiple SPAR stores in the future. These would most likely also be SPAR city stores in high traffic locations.”

SPAR Neighbourhood store, Otterlo:

Entrepreneurial couple, Johan and Saron van Leijenhorst, have a combined 28 years of experience in the retail industry and have been operating their 459m2 SPAR neighbourhood store in Otterlo for nearly two years. The focus of the store is on fresh and the departments have been organised according to consumption moments, with breakfast products close to the entrance and lunch and dinner items further on in the store.

Product offer: “We purchase our products through SPAR Netherlands and also offer some from the local butchery and farmers in Otterlo. Our store includes an offering of typically Dutch items that are particularly popular with tourists.”

Important developments: “In March this year, we closed our store for two weeks of renovations to be in line with the new SPAR 3.0 design concept. Thanks to this update, we can now respond much better to the wishes of both our regular customers and the many tourists who visit us during the summer season.”

Annual turnover: “Since our store has been converted to the latest 3.0 formula, we have seen an increase of almost 20% both in terms of turnover and the number of customers. This is in comparison to the same period last year.”

Responsible retailing instore: “We try to purchase as precisely as possible on the basis of past figures in order minimise waste. Bread and vegetables that haven’t been sold are donated to a care farm in our neighbourhood free of charge.”

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.