SPAR (retailer)

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SPAR, originally DESPAR, is a Dutch multinational franchise that manages independently owned and operated food retail stores.[1] It was founded in the Netherlands in 1932,[2] by Adriaan van Well, and now consists of more than 13,320 stores in 48 countries. The company's name is an acronym of the slogan "Door Eendrachtig Samenwerken Profiteren Allen Regelmatig", which was used by van Well to describe the brand and translates as "Everyone works better together".[3]

Founded1932; 89 years ago (1932)
Number of locations
13,320 (worldwide)
Area served
(48 countries as of 2019)
ProductsGrocers' shops, convenience shops, discount shops, hypermarkets and more
RevenueIncrease 37.1 billion (2019)
Number of employees

Its headquarters are located in Amsterdam. The company operates a partnership programme and has a presence in most European countries, as well as many others throughout Asia, Africa and Oceania.

In fiscal year 2019, SPAR achieved 37.1 billion in global sales, which represented a 4.35 percent increase over 2018.[4]


The name was originally DESPAR, an acronym of the Dutch phrase Door Eendrachtig Samenwerken Profiteren Allen Regelmatig[note 1] (English: "through united co-operation everyone regularly profits"). The acronym was chosen in order to resonate with the verb sparen, which (related to English spare) means "save [money]" in Dutch and some other languages, among them German[5] and Scandinavian languages (with variants such as spara or spare). "Spar" is Dutch for "spruce tree", after which the logo was chosen. As the organisation expanded across Europe, the name was abbreviated by dropping the DE prefix.[citation needed]

There are some international naming variants:

  • In Hungary, 17 stores owned by SPAR located at Lukoil filling stations operate under the name DESPAR.[6] However, there are also many SPAR and INTERSPAR locations.
  • In Italy, the name is still DESPAR, though in keeping with the international branding, the SPAR section of the logo is highlighted, and the larger shops are still called EuroSPAR and InterSPAR.
  • In Austria, DESPAR is SPAR's Italian food product range.[7] There are also INTERSPAR locations within Austria.[8]
  • In Croatia, SPAR and INTERSPAR locations run concurrently.[9]


SPAR shop in Moerkapelle, Netherlands

Spar was founded in 1932 in the South Holland town of Zegwaart (now part of Zoetermeer). In 1953 an International Spar office opened in Amsterdam to control and further develop the organisation throughout Europe and other continents. Many Spar shops are in Europe, but they can also be found in a number of countries outside of Europe, such as Australia, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Malawi, Nigeria, South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, Cameroon, China, India. Spar opened in Vanuatu on 1 December 2009, ending Au Bon Marché's grocery monopoly.[10]

A Spar shop may be owned independently, by a franchisee, or be part of a chain, depending on the model applied in any given country. The owners of the parent company vary from country to country and may include the shop owners themselves. The name and the current logo was most recently revised in 1968 by Raymond Loewy and has since remained unchanged.[11]

In the United Kingdom Spar, founded in 1959, may be a supermarket or a convenience shop, and is more common in Northern Ireland than Great Britain. In 1997, Spar was introduced to most United Kingdom military bases by the Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes (Naafi), where it sells a variety of civilian and military products.[12] In Ireland the Spar brand is known for neighbourhood shops and also the subformat Eurospar acting as mini-supermarkets.[citation needed]

Since 1996, the company has been a major sponsor of the European Athletic Association and its events.[13]

The Dutch Spar is a member of Superunie, an inventory purchasing organization for a number of otherwise unaffiliated supermarket brands.[citation needed]

In 1988 SPAR South Africa became a wholly owned subsidiary of Tiger Brands, a holding company with a large diversified portfolio, however it was unbundled and listed as a separate company in 2004.[14] In July 2014 Spar Group South Africa opened its first supermarket in Angola but no expansion of the brand is planned for this market. In August 2014 the group acquired 80% of the BWG Group, which had outlets in Ireland and southern Britain.[15]

In 2015 Ahold acquired all 35 hypermarkets and 14 supermarkets from Spar Czechia for more than 5.2 billion Czech koruna.[16] and converted them into Albert super- and hypermarkets, however it had to divest itself of some shops in order not to have a monopoly.[citation needed]

The first SPAR shop in Oman was inaugurated in January 2015 in Muscat.[citation needed] Spar Oman has plans to open more shops over time as part of its expansion plans in Oman.[citation needed] Spar opened its first store in Qatar in 2017, with the second store opening in 2018. A further two stores are planned for 2018.[17]

SPAR opened in Saudi Arabia in 2017, sub-licensed to Al-Sadhan Group [18] opening the first stores in Riyadh.

In 2017 Ceylon Biscuits Limited in Sri Lanka acquired a license to operate Spar brand in Sri Lanka as Spar Lanka. This is a joint venture of Ceylon Biscuits Limited and SPAR Group Ltd South Africa.[19] They opened the first store in Thalawathugoda, Colombo. The plan is to open 50 outlets in the country by 2023.[20]

Shop typesEdit

SPAR shop in Laiwu, China

In most, but not all countries, SPAR operates shops of different types and sub-brands: SPAR Express, SPAR Neighbourhood, EuroSPAR and InterSPAR.[21]

InterSPAR shop in Hungary

The EuroSPAR name is used in Europe and SuperSPAR in South Africa. These are mid-sized supermarkets. They are designed to fit in a niche between convenience shops and traditional supermarkets.[22]


These are hypermarkets and compete directly against major international chains such as Real, Carrefour, and Tesco.[23][24]


KwikSPAR (only found in South Africa) are a smaller quick stop shop for convenience. They are larger than the conventional SPAR Express but smaller than the normal SPAR. These stores tend to have extended trading hours, some even being 24-hour convenience stores.

SPAR Express
A filling station with a SPAR Express shop in Wattens, Austria

This is the smallest type of shop. They are designed for small sites and filling station forecourts, airports and train stations.[25]

SPAR Drive-Thru

There was a drive-through SPAR on the Cliftonville Road in Belfast, Northern Ireland. This has now been converted to a Centra shop, and retained the drive-through for a while afterhand, but now no longer has one.[26]

SPAR Gourmet

The Austrian Spar Group has around 50 supermarkets branded SPAR Gourmet, mainly in and around Vienna. They are smaller supermarkets that specialize in foods, with a reduced range of other household goods. They originate from the acquisition of retail units from the Julius Meinl coffee and tea chain in 2000.[27][28][29]

International statistics (2019)Edit

Former Spar store photographed on the ground floor of Helsinki Central Station in 2005. Today, Alepa operates in the same space.
  • 48 Countries
  • 253 Distribution Centres
  • 13,320 Stores
  • 14 Million customers a day
  • €37.1 Billion Total Sales
  • 107 Retail and Wholesale Partners
  • 370,000 SPAR Colleagues
  • 560m² average store size
  • 208 new stores [30]

See alsoEdit



  1. ^ "About us". SPAR International. Retrieved 13 September 2018.
  2. ^ "Spar boss brings in Subway and Greggs to snatch grocery spend from retail giants". The Telegraph. Retrieved 14 January 2019.
  3. ^ "History". SPAR International. Retrieved 13 September 2018.
  4. ^ "2019 Review". SPAR International. Retrieved 3 January 2021.
  5. ^ "Englisch-Deutsch Wörterbuch". LEO. Retrieved 1 March 2015.
  6. ^ "DESPAR" (in Hungarian). Lukoil Magyarország. Retrieved 8 March 2019.
  7. ^ "DESPAR" (in German). SPAR Österreich. Retrieved 7 March 2015.
  8. ^ "". Retrieved 30 January 2021.
  9. ^ Retrieved 30 January 2021. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  10. ^ "SPAR Australia opens first Vanuatu shop: AUS". Wayback Machine. Archived from the original on 2 April 2012. Retrieved 10 January 2016.
  11. ^ "SPAR". Raymond Loewy Foundation. Retrieved 1 October 2013.
  12. ^ "Naafi allies with Spar". The Grocer. 22 March 1997. Naafi has chosen Spar as its retail partner to convert its 200 UK shops into a "world class operation for the next millennium". The contract, worth nearly £500 million over the next five years, was awarded after extensive trials with Costcutter and Londis.[dead link]
  13. ^ "Athletics, Sprints and Sports Days". SPAR. Wayback Machine. Archived from the original on 9 October 2009. Retrieved 10 January 2016.
  14. ^ Trade Intelligence – SPAR, accessed 2 October 2010
  15. ^ Mark Allix (12 August 2014). "Spar buys stake in Irish supermarkets". BusinessLIVE. Archived from the original on 26 October 2014. Retrieved 25 February 2015.
  16. ^ "SPAR odchází z českého trhu, z padesáti prodejen budou Alberty". 11 March 2014. Retrieved 30 July 2016.
  17. ^ Aguilar, Joey (2 April 2018). "Spar's flagship store opens at Tawar Mall". Gulf Times.
  18. ^ "Saudi Spar to open 40 branches by 2020". 2 February 2018.
  19. ^ "SPAR Sri Lanka". Retrieved 31 May 2018.
  20. ^ "* Spar continues expansion with entry into Sri Lanka". Retrieved 31 May 2018.
  21. ^ Eric Pfanner (12 November 2004). "An international grocery giant is emerging from the shadows". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 February 2015.
  22. ^ "Shop formats". Spar International. Retrieved 26 February 2017.
  23. ^ Ians (28 January 2011). "SPAR to open 24 more hypermarkets in next two years". Sify. Archived from the original on 2 March 2012. Retrieved 1 October 2013.
  24. ^ Sedlák, Lubomír (3 February 2011). "CZECH: Spar looks to expand supermarket chain". just-food. Retrieved 1 October 2013.
  25. ^ "Shop formats". Spar South Africa. Retrieved 26 February 2017.
  26. ^ "Inquiry into Town Centre Regeneration". Northern Ireland Assembly Archive Site. 20 October 2009. Retrieved 1 October 2013.
  27. ^ "Chronologie: Von Konsum bis Rewe". 24 February 2008. Retrieved 1 October 2013.
  28. ^ "SPAR Gourmet". SPAR (in German). SPAR Österreichische Warenhandels-AG. Retrieved 24 August 2020.
  29. ^ "Julius Meinl veräußert Lebensmittelhandel an die Spar - Institution". APA-OTS Originaltext-Service (in German). Retrieved 24 August 2020.
  30. ^ "2019 Review". SPAR International. Retrieved 2 March 2021.

External linksEdit