Four hundred people attended SPAR UK’s national conference which took place on the island of Gran Canaria from 4-8 October 2022.
Delegates from the UK convenience retail sector travelled to Gran Canaria to have the opportunity to spend time with independent SPAR retailers operating stores and forecourt sites from around the country, SPAR store managers, and representatives from leading FMCG suppliers. In attendance too were SPAR’s shareholders and senior figures from each of SPAR’s five wholesale distribution centres and colleagues from SPAR UK central office.
Speaking at the conference, Louise Hoste, SPAR UK Managing Director said: “The SPAR national conference is an exciting opportunity for guests to share their retail experiences and hear how SPAR continues to lead within the UK’s convenience sector.
“SPAR is delivering robust growth well ahead of the symbol sector and continues to report year-on-year sales increases. We are outperforming our competitor set in value growth and seeing smaller trips to stores growing by 10%. This footfall growth is a massive opportunity, especially when we capitalise on it with extra items in the basket.
“The convenience market is best placed for independent retailers and independent retailers are thriving with SPAR. The opportunity to grow is also supported by customer sentiment for wanting to continue to shop locally and we want to support this sustained solid performance. That is why we are committing to investing £122m over the next 12 months in stores and supply chain, after spending £125m last year.
“There are some great customer opportunities to make us the force for the future as we continue to focus on our vision of being the most compelling and competitive convenience proposition in the country. We will do this by leveraging our unique partnership and the strength of our distinctive SPAR brand. We will provide innovative and profitable retail solutions to all our independent retailers, enabling them to serve local communities in ways that exceed customer expectations.”
Taking part in the conference were Graham McLean, IGD Commercial Manager, James Lowman, ACS Chief Executive, Tobias Wasmuht, SPAR International Managing Director and Dunia Perez Garcia, SPAR Gran Canaria General Manager.
Delegates heard from Dominic Hall, SPAR National Guild Chairman, RDC representatives included Steve Irons, CJ Lang Wholesale Sales Director, Louis Drake, Blakemore Trade Partners Commercial Director, Rodney Tucker, Appleby Westward Group Sales Director, Peter Dodding, James Hall Sales Director and Mark McCammond, Henderson Retail Ltd Retail Director.
SPAR retailers who made a significant contribution to the overall conference included: Peter McBride, Ian Lewis, Tristan King, Bhavesh Parekh, Paul Stone, Julian Taylor Green, Susan Connolly, Innes MacDonald, Rahn Heer, Oliver Blake and Kevin Hunt.
Finally, delegates also heard from key members of SPAR’s central office including Lee Johnson, Suzanne Dover, Ian Taylor, Chris Lewis, Jamie Seymour, Trudy Mills and Simon Mitchell.
The keynote speaker was Richard McCann who told his story of resilience, resourcefulness, determination and proved his uncanny ability to spot and seize opportunities.
All delegates were invited to visit the SPAR Puerto Rico Market and SPAR Natural Market store at Mogan Mall. The premium 1,600m2 SPAR store features specialist departments including a cheese room, wine cellar and beer hall and is owned and run by the SPAR Spain Partner Cencosu.
The spacious and beautifully designed areas of the store are temperature regulated, so customers can shop with ease and comfort, aided by specialist staff who are on hand to offer advice and product tastings.
The large modern supermarket also includes a butchers’ shop, fish market, bakery department, food-to-go section, delicatessen counter, and fresh fruit and vegetable corner. At the instore cafeteria, customers can enjoy sit-down meals from morning to night. There is a dedicated flower department at the entrance of the store rounding off the complete premium shopping experience.
Two hundred retailers attended the SPAR Guild Team Challenge proudly sponsored by Coca-Cola Europacific Partners with the Northern Guild, (supported by James Hall & Co Ltd), winning the overall ‘Mark Gillett Award for Endeavor’.
Delegates attending SPAR UK biennial conferences, like the one held in Gran Canaria this year, are passionate about supporting charitable organisations. As well as supporting SPAR UK’s national charity partner, Marie Curie, SPAR supported Caritas Diocesana a local charity in Gran Canaria.
Following a silent auction, a cheque presentation of £28,172 was made to Marie Curie, and £28,172 was also given to Caritas Diocesana at the end of the Gala dinner on Friday 7 October.
Louise Hoste added: “We are incredibly grateful to everyone who has supported our conference both in the UK and in Gran Canaria. We hope our charitable donation will help Marie Curie Nurses and the volunteers from Caritas Diocesana continue with their magnificent work.
“Thanks too to our retailers, suppliers and RDC colleagues for their contribution and making the event a success. There is no doubt that SPARs performance is standing out in the convenience industry. Through our ability to share best practise internationally and nationally and through the camaraderie of our Guilds we have delivered for our customers, our neighbours.
“And as the market continues to evolve, we have the ability, the agility, and the passion to outperform and deliver again. SPAR is the force of the future in the convenience market.”
The 2024 SPAR national conference will take place in Sun City, South Africa from 12-16 March 2024.