The story of SPAR in the early years is the story of founder, Adriaan van Well, an innovative Dutch wholesaler with a clear vision for the future of SPAR. He was inspired by a simple yet powerful philosophy based on the concept of voluntary retailing: Independent wholesalers and retailers can achieve more by working together than working alone. This notion of benefiting from working in co-operation, uniting resources and scale, remains the philosophy of SPAR today.
The first SPAR store opened in the Netherlands in 1932. It was originally launched as DESPAR, an acronym of a slogan created by van Well to describe the organisation: Door Eendrachtig Samenwerken Profiteren Allen Regelmatig, which translates into English as: All benefit from joint co-operation.
In Dutch, ‘De Spar’ means a fir tree and from the start the fir tree symbol was used to identify the organisation. The seeds for the international development of SPAR were already sown as ‘spaar’, which means ‘save’ in Dutch.
Evidence of the advanced thinking of van Well is seen in the fact that all SPAR stores had the same branding and logo. He also introduced a SPAR Own Brand range to offer customers more choice.
1932: The Netherlands
SPAR continued to develop in the Netherlands during the 1930s. In the late 1940s, the decision was made to abbreviate DESPAR to SPAR.
The popularity of the SPAR system in the Netherlands did not go unnoticed. In 1947, the SPAR system was adopted by Belgian wholesalers and SPAR was established in Belgium, marking the start of the internationalisation of the brand.
In the years that followed, van Well recognised that the SPAR concept had international relevance in offering an alternative to multiple retailers. SPAR International was established in Amsterdam in 1953 to support and develop the SPAR concept internationally and Adriaan van Well became the first President of the International SPAR Board. SPAR then expanded rapidly in Europe during the 1950s. By 1959 the SPAR family had extended to include wholesalers and retailers in nine countries.
The SPAR Guild system of retailers and wholesalers working in partnership was by this time operating at regional, national and international level. The system not only supported the exchange of knowledge and information but also provided a structure to work together and grow the business. The holding of the first International SPAR Congress in 1957 was particularly significant. It signaled SPAR’s ambition to move beyond Europe and become a worldwide organisation. The stage was set for SPAR to continue to expand within Europe and to develop on new continents.
In the 20-year period from 1960 to 1980, SPAR continued to increase its presence in Europe and also entered Africa and Asia. During this period, the SPAR family expanded into 14 countries on three continents. A significant development in the sophistication of the SPAR marketing plan took place at this time and in 1968, SPAR International introduced the current SPAR Logo.
Two other milestones in the development of SPAR date from this period. The first EUROSPAR was opened in 1968 and a year later the SPAR Hypermarket formula, INTERSPAR, was launched.
Read more about 1960SPAR entered Japan in 1977 and through ‘All Japan SPAR Central’ built up a network of regional SPAR Partners operating both Neighborhood Supermarkets and Convenience stores under the SPAR license.
The period 1980-1999 saw SPAR continue its growth in existing markets, while expanding its presence in an additional six countries. By 1999, SPAR was present in 20 countries on four continents following the opening of the first SPAR store in Australia in 1994.
During this period there were a number of milestones for SPAR. The initiative of SPAR Austria in establishing an international daughter company, ASPIAG, to extend the SPAR concept into Eastern and Central Europe, marked an important new stage in the development of SPAR. This period also saw the holding of the 25th International SPAR Congress in Italy and the 40th Congress in Japan.
There was further development of the SPAR Brand with the launch of the SPAR Express retail format and the SPAR Own Brand range. The effectiveness of SPAR in exercising its joint purchasing was greatly strengthened with the establishment of IFAG in 1992 and BIGS in 1994 by SPAR International.
In 1984 SPAR moved into Scandinavia with the launch of the brand in Norway, as part of the NorgesGruppen ASA business.
In 1989 SPAR entered Switzerland, when a family owned business was licensed to operate the SPAR Brand in the German speaking region of the country.
SPAR Slovenia, a subsidiary of ASPIAG, was founded in 1992. The company was initially a joint venture with the Slovenian company, Mercator. SPAR Slovenia opened its first SPAR store in the capital city, Lljublana, in 1992.
The second subsidiary of ASPIAG to join SPAR was Hungary, also in 1992. The company built the brand with company owned stores, operating INTERSPAR Hypermarkets and SPAR Neighborhood Supermarkets.
SPAR began trading in Australia in 1994 and has a history of changes in ownership due to structural changes in the retailing and wholesaling sectors. The current company was formed in 2006 and in late 2010 a new majority shareholder, Jardin Investments Pty Ltd, was confirmed. This development significantly accelerated the modernization of the SPAR Brand in Australia.
Poland became a member of SPAR in 1995 and the first SPAR store opened in 1997. Following a series of changes to the ownership of the company, SPAR Poland now has an effective retail management team in place.
The new millennium has seen the continued expansion of SPAR, particularly in developing countries where the modern retail sector is a major driver of economic development.
Since 2000, SPAR has entered three key developing countries, recognized as economic powerhouses: Russia, China and India. SPAR has also entered the Middle East and has continued to expand in Central and Eastern Europe, Africa and Asia.
The continued success of SPAR in existing countries and the level of interest expressed by new countries in securing the SPAR license points to the continued relevance of the SPAR partnership model in modern food retailing. Asia has grown very rapidly over the past 10 years and will continue to be a focus area for expansion. Considering all the above factors The 63rd International SPAR congress took place in Bangalore, India between 20-26 May 2018.
Read more about 2000 until now
Source: SPAR International