The world’s largest food retail voluntary chain, SPAR International, has reported sales of €37.1 billion for the year ending 31 December 2019, representing a 4.35% increase in revenue on a constant currency basis.
At the end of the year there were 13,320 SPAR branded stores operating across 48 markets worldwide in four continents, an increase of 208 stores over the previous year. Consistent expansion has seen over 1,200 new stores added to the SPAR global network in the last four years. The brand was launched in two new markets in 2019, Kosovo and Armenia, further strengthening the brand in Central and Eastern Europe – one of the key growth regions for SPAR in recent years.
Regional performance highlights during the year include:
- In the 16 Western European markets where SPAR has a presence, sales grew by 3.57% to €22.9 billion, equating to 62% of SPAR’s global turnover. Highlights included the performance of SPAR Austria which reported revenue of €7.2 billion, making it market growth leader for the tenth year in a row. SPAR Netherlands achieved an unprecedented growth of 22.8% prompted by the success of its multi-format expansion strategy and SPAR Spain recorded growth of 8.8%.
- Central and Eastern Europe recorded the most significant increase in sales of 6.83% across 11 SPAR countries to a historic high of €6.2 billion, with SPAR Hungary the stand out performer, reporting sales of €2.09 billion – an increase of over 10% on the previous year, driven by investment across its store portfolio. SPAR Russia continued its exceptional growth, with sales of €2.14 billion – growth of 7.6% year-on-year. SPAR’s newer territories in the region experienced the most significant growth including SPAR Georgia (+79%), SPAR Albania (+19%), SPAR Ukraine (+141%) and SPAR Belarus (+300%).
- In Africa & the Middle East, where the brand has a presence across 14 countries, SPAR maintained its growth trajectory with sales of €6.06 billion – a 5.26% increase on 2018. SPAR South Africa posted a 7% year-on-year growth, with sales of €5.09 billion. More than 60% of total revenue in 2019 came from the larger format SUPERSPAR stores. Other notable performers, in what are sometimes tough and volatile trading conditions, were SPAR Mozambique (+34%), SPAR Nigeria (+10%) and SPAR Botswana (+12%).In the Middle East, SPAR Saudi Arabia had a stand-out year recording growth of 57% year-on-year driven by increased footfall in existing stores, as well as the launch of smaller format SPAR and SPAR Express stores. SPAR United Arab Emirates achieved a key milestone with the expansion of the SPAR brand to Dubai.
- In Asia Pacific, SPAR consolidated its position across many of the markets it operates with year-on-year growth of 3.04% and retail sales of €1.94 billion. Together, the seven regional SPAR entities in China combined to produce revenue of €1.54 billion, an increase of 2.16%. SPAR in China grew its presence with expansion into the new northern region of Zhangjiakou, and the opening of 30 new hypermarkets and supermarkets.SPAR India expanded the brand into a number of regional and provincial cities, particularly in southern India, and recorded sales increase of 22%. SPAR Thailand continued its rapid expansion to also record growth of 22% in 2019.
Commenting on the 2019 results, Tobias Wasmuht, CEO of SPAR International said: “In the face of intensified international competition, the SPAR brand has again delivered exceptional results. A common trend across many of our markets in 2019 was the outperformance of the SPAR brand versus key local and global competitors. The strength of our international network and growth in our distribution and supply chain operations have delivered significant competitive advantages for our stores and retailers, allowing agility and a speed of response to changing consumer and market trends.”
“Our continuous compound annual growth of 4.4% over the last five years creates a strong platform to build from for the future and indicates that our ‘Better Together’ strategy continues to deliver sustainable growth. Since its launch in 2015, this strategy has delivered SPAR global sales growth of 21.4%, global store footprint growth of over 1,200 additional stores and a total retail sales area increase of 7%.”
Commenting on SPAR performance during the first four months of 2020 and the impact of COVID-19, Mr. Wasmuht continued, “From our unique vantage point as a global retailer, we had the ability to track the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on the retail sector from East to West; and to share SPAR’s best practice approach to ensuring the safety of SPAR colleagues and customers around the world. The crisis has shown the global strength of the SPAR network. As a group, we have worked tirelessly to ensure consistency of supply for the hundreds of thousands of our colleagues who continued to meet the needs of the communities they serve.
“The strong performance of neighbourhood retailing during the outbreak and the importance our customers place in proximity and local retailing will continue to strengthen, as will our continued roll out of online retail in the new ‘low-touch’ economy. Economic impact, consumer confidence and the negative impact on household incomes will see consumer spend shifting towards three key areas of health, sanitation, and value, with the SPAR brand very well positioned to respond.
“Performance to date this year gives just an indication of the key role SPAR stores have played as critical lifelines for local communities throughout the crisis. SPAR Austria’s recent growth is indicative. In the first four months of the year, SPAR Austria, for the first time, became market leader as it grew its share of the market to 34%; in April alone SPAR Austria achieved market share of 36.5% and grew by 23%, almost double the industry average of 12.6%. Year-to-date has also seen massive strides forward SPAR’s digital presence, with SPAR having launched online retail in an additional 12 markets in the last three months. SPAR now has an online shopping presence in 25 countries worldwide.”