SPAR International chief executive Dr Gordon Campbell arrived in Zimbabwe this week from the franchise's headquarters in Holland on an official visit to meet SPAR retailers and members of the distribution centre in SPAR's eastern region in the country.
SPAR Zimbabwe is a member of SPAR International based in the Netherlands, and represented globally in 37 countries around the world. Serving over 11 million customers a day in over 13 000 retail outlets, SPAR is the world's largest supermarket chain by store numbers.
SPAR International has announced a third consecutive year of outstanding sales growth despite global recession, with retail sales for the period from January 1 to December 31 2011 up 4,6 percent on 2010. SPAR's worldwide retail sales grew by US$1,6 billion in 2011, leading to overall sales of US$37,2 billion and a cumulative three-year retail sales increase of 16 percent.
Announcing the results at the 57th International SPAR Congress in Sun City, South Africa, Dr Campbell said the SPAR multi-format retail strategy had played a key role in sales growth.
"We are responding to consumer needs with our multi-format retail strategy, which meets all shopping missions from full weekly shopping for the family to stock up, to daily fresh products, to express shopping for convenience items and food to go."
SPAR International met another key expansion milestone in 2011, with its move into the Middle East. The first SPAR supermarket opened in the United Arab Emirates in
Abu Dhabi and will provide the platform for further expansion in the region. Qatar will soon become the 37th SPAR country with its first SPAR supermarket opening later this year. A number of countries saw exceptional growth in 2011. SPAR South Africa put in a very strong performance, with retail sales growth of 8 percent. SPAR also performed well across Europe with excellent sales results in Italy (+6,2 percent), Austria (+4,5 percent), Belgium (+3,9 percent) and Spain (+3,0 percent), driven by a mixture of strategies including new store openings, and a comprehensive programme of store upgrades and improving store standards.
The newer SPAR countries also had a fantastic year. Retail sales in China grew by an outstanding 70 percent to US$841,2 million and by 22 percent in Russia to US$1,1 billion .
This year, for the special SPAR International congress marking the 80th anniversary of the food retail chain, Dr Campbell welcomed almost 300 delegates from 35 countries, a record attendance which demonstrates the strength and vitality of the worldwide organisation.
"This year we are delighted to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the foundation of the unique SPAR partnership, which was founded in the Netherlands in 1932 with the slogan "Through joint co-operation all benefit".
"I am delighted to say that our ongoing growth, boosted by the collaboration of all of our SPAR countries with their partners, proves this slogan true," said Dr Campbell.