Covid-19: Spar International CEO hints at more online roll-outs

The strong performance of neighbourhood retailing experienced during the Covid-19 outbreak will continue, according to Spar International CEO, Tobias Wasmuht, who is also predicting more online retail development at the convenience chain.

Wasmuht said Spar International, which licences wholesalers and retail groups to run Spar stores across Europe, the Middle East & Africa, and the Asia Pacific region, will continue to roll out online retail services to fit the “new ‘low-touch’ economy” prompted by the coronavirus.

He suggested that, year-to-date, the group has “seen massive strides forward” in terms of its digital presence, having launched online retail in an additional 12 markets in the last three months alone.

Spar now has an online shopping presence in 25 countries worldwide, representing more than half of the 48 markets in which it has a presence.

“Economic impact, consumer confidence, and the negative impact on household incomes will see consumer spend shifting towards three key areas of health, sanitation, and value, with the Spar brand very well positioned to respond,” Wasmuht added.

Although, online retail has expanded and more growth is expected, in-store sales represent by far the largest part of the Spar International business.

For the 12 months ending 31 December 2019, total sales reached €37.1 billion, representing a 4.35% increase in revenue on a constant currency basis compared to 2018. There were 13,320 Spar-branded stores in operation, which was up by 208 stores compared to the year before.

In Western European markets where Spar has a presence, including the UK, sales grew by 3.57% to €22.9 billion, equating to 62% of the group’s global turnover. Spar Austria reported revenue of €7.2 billion, and was the market growth leader in the group’s portfolio.

“The strength of our international network and growth in our distribution and supply chain operations have delivered significant competitive advantages for our stores and retailers, allowing agility and a speed of response to changing consumer and market trends,” said Wasmuht.

“Our continuous compound annual growth of 4.4% over the last five years creates a strong platform to build from for the future.”