SPAR International defies ‘worst economic crisis of a generation’

Posted by Janice Wong on 4th June 2009

Dutch-founded retail foodstore chain SPAR International has reported strong sales growth in 2008, with worldwide retail sales growing 6.3% in constant currency values. Reporting at the annual SPAR International Congress in Lucerne, Dr Gordon Campbell, Managing Director said “This is an excellent result against the background of the onset of the global recession.”

The worldwide organisation, now present in 32 countries spread over 4 continents including Australia, reported significant growth in the core Western European Markets, in South Africa, in the newer countries in Eastern and Central Europe and in Asia-Pacific.

SPAR Hungary acquired the Plus chain from Tengelman resulting in a 31% sales growth while the merger of SPAR Netherlands with the Attent chain resulted in a 26% sales increase.

SPAR South Africa continued its consistent strong growth with a 22% sales increase and the group is continuing with its expansion programme and as a result is confident about prospects for the year ahead.

SPAR Slovenia, SPAR Czech Republic, SPAR Greece, SPAR Denmark, SPAR Switzerland and SPAR Austria have all outperformed their markets and grown market share.

The SPAR Austria Group achieved a number of milestones in 2008. The Group sales, including Shopping Centres, grew by 10% to €10.88 (A$19.24) billion thereby exceeding €10 (A$17.69) billion for the first time. 2008 was also the year in which the international sales of SPAR Austria first exceeded sales in their home market.

SPAR Australia, was one of the new SPAR countries that achieved outstanding sales growth in 2008, increasing sales by 53%.

supermarket aisle

One major impact of the global financial crisis has been the increased fluctuations in currency values. The UK £ sterling, the Russian rouble, the Hungarian forint and the South African rand have all experienced major depreciation against the euro.

SPAR worldwide retail sales grew by 6.3% in constant currency; however, when the impact of the currency valuations is taken into account, the euro value of the SPAR worldwide sales remained relatively unchanged at €27 (A$47.49) billion.

Dr Campbell said that despite the times, the company was confident of the future from its performance in 2008.

“We are going through the worst economic crisis of a generation. The world economy, our industry and the consumer have all changed and some of these changes are fundamental so we are adopting new strategies to respond to the new consumer reality,” he said.