Netherlands-based SPAR International reported global sales growth of 4.35% to €37.1 bn (US $41.6 bn). The retailer stated its entry into two new markets, an additional 208 stores and the consistent expansion over the past four years has been a key growth driver, although the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has brought challenges.
2019 ‘has again delivered exceptional results’
Commenting on the results, SPAR International CEO, Tobias Wasmuht, mentioned ‘in the face of intensified international competition, the SPAR brand has again delivered exceptional results. A common trend across many of our markets in 2019 was the outperformance of the SPAR brand versus key local and global competitors’.
At the end of 2019, SPAR operated in 48 countries over four continents, with 13,320 stores.
Strength in Europe: +3.57% in Western Europe, +6.83% in Central and Eastern Europe
SPAR reported a sales growth of 3.57% to €22.9 bn (US $25.7 bn) in Western Europe, while Central and Eastern Europe demonstrated a sales growth of 6.83% to €6.2 bn (US $6.9 bn).
SPAR operates in 16 Western European markets, equating to 62% of its global turnover. Across key markets, SPAR Austria reported revenue of €7.2 bn (US $8.1 bn). SPAR Netherlands saw 22.8% growth driven by the success of its multi-format expansion strategy, while SPAR Spain reported 8.8% growth.
With 11 markets in Central and Eastern Europe, the expansion into Armenia and Kosovo in 2019 strengthened the brands’ presence. The highlight for 2019 however SPAR Hungary, which achieved over a 10% sales growth to €2.09 bn (US $2.34 bn), driven by investments in its store portfolio. SPAR Russia grew by 7.6% to €2.14 bn (US $2.4 bn), while newer markets delivered exponential growth, with SPAR Georgia (+79%), SPAR Albania (+19%), SPAR Ukraine (+141%) and SPAR Belarus (+300%).
Africa: growth driven by South Africa, supported by Mozambique, Nigeria and Botswana
Across the 14 countries it operates in Africa, SPAR reported sales of €6.06 bn (US $6.8 bn), a 5.26% increase from 2018.
SPAR South Africa represented almost 85% of sales in Africa and reported 7% growth to €5.09 bn (US $5.7 bn). 60% of total revenue came from its SUPERSPAR formats.
This was supported with growth in its smaller and tougher markets, with SPAR Mozambique (+34%), SPAR Nigeria (+10%) and SPAR Botswana (+12%).
Middle East: SPAR Saudi Arabia +57%, expansion to Dubai
In the Middle East, SPAR Saudi Arabia recorded a 57% growth supported by increased footfall and the launch of smaller SPAR and SPAR Express formats. Meanwhile SPAR United Arab Emirates expanded to Dubai.
Asia: China +2.16%, Thailand and India +22%
In its Asia Pacific region, SPAR delivered growth of 3.04% with sales of €1.94 bn (US $2.17 bn). China accounted for the majority of sales, with revenue of €1.54 bn (US $1.73 bn), an increase of 2.16%. The increased revenue was supported by the expansion to Zhangjiakou, with the opening of 30 new hypermarkets and supermarkets.
SPAR India expanded to the south of the country and saw sales increase by 22%, while SPAR Thailand continued its own expansion plans, also reporting growth of 22%.
Continued focus on ‘Better Together’ strategy
Continuing its fourth out of a five year ‘Better Together’ strategy, Wasmuht stated an ‘annual growth of 4.4% over the last five years creates a strong platform to build from for the future and indicates that our ‘Better Together’ strategy continues to deliver sustainable growth’.
Since the launch in 2015, the strategy has given SPAR a global sales growth of 21.4%, with 1,200 additional stores and a 7% increase in total retail sales area.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic: ‘We had the ability to track the impact…on the retail sector from East to West’
From our unique vantage point as a global retailer, we had the ability to track the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on the retail sector from East to West’. As shopper spending moves towards health, sanitation and value, SPAR is ‘very well positioned to respond’. SPAR also said its ‘performance to date this year gives just an indication of the key role SPAR stores have played as critical lifelines for local communities throughout the crisis’.
Online grocery launched in 12 additional markets in the last three months
In other news, SPAR expanded its online presence in 12 additional markets in the last three months, doubling its online reach to 25 countries worldwide.