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SPAR UK has appointed Louise Hoste as the Managing Director of its central office function, who will take up the role in October 2019.  The position is being filled on an interim basis by Chris Lewis and Jackie Mckenzie, following the departure of Debbie Robinson in late 2018.

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The Henderson Group, which operates SPAR UK’s Northern Ireland stores, is set to trial Ubamarket’s ‘scan, pay, go’ app in select stores.

Scan, pay, go

The self-checkout app, that enables customers to build shopping lists, create navigation guides, scan barcodes and checkout using their smartphones at the points of sale (PoS), will initially be trialled in a small number of SPAR UK stores. The app will work with Henderson Technology’s new self-checkout systems, that are currently installed in an increasing number of stores in Northern Ireland.

Improving convenience within the in-store experience

The Ubamarket app aims to enhance the shopping experience. It rearranges users' shopping lists upon entry to the store to reflect layout and create the most convenient in-store route. Shoppers then scan barcodes using the app, including variable barcodes on weighted products, before using their smartphones at dedicated checkout payment points, removing the need to unload items for re-scanning. Further time is saved as store loyalty card details can be entered into the app, and associated benefits recorded automatically.

Darren Nickels, Head of Henderson Technology, commented:

“We know from the stores we own and operate in the group, that customer needs and expectations are changing, and we are ensuring our solutions meet those needs both now and into the future”.

Understand more about the cashless payment experience

Improving the shopper experience continues to be a focus area for retailers, and cashless payment is a growing trend in making the shopper journey more convenient. To understand more about the rise of cashless payment, Retail Analysis subscribers can read our Convenience stores are going cashless report, and find out more about the Ubamarket app.

SPAR UK has appointed Chris Lewis and Jackie Mackenzie as interim managing directors. This follows the news that Debbie Robinson was stepping down from the role to become chief executive of Central England Co-operative.

Key SPAR UK figures

Chris Lewis and Jackie Mackenzie will take on the new interim managing director roles and will lead the SPAR UK team in its head office in Harrow, whilst a permanent successor is found.

Chris Lewis, who has worked with SPAR for 19 years has been a key figure and has worked on a new purchasing strategy in addition to multiple other projects with the main board. Meanwhile, Jackie Mackenzie joined the convenience retailer in 2016 as chief information officer, responsible for financial accounts, management information, supply chain and technology operations. Subsequently, she has taken on the responsibility for central HR, legal and governance issues.

SPAR UK chairman Martin Agnew has commented in the press:

“Chris and Jackie have spent a lot of time with the SFD Board over the last 18 months, and their interim roles will enable the continuity and development of our strategy, which has proven successful in driving profitable growth. For the meantime, we are working with a search firm to assist us with finding a permanent successor”.

SPAR UK is set to increase its social media presence through new partnership with social media agency, We Are Social.

Social brand strategy

We Are Social will manage SPAR’s social brand strategy and content development in the UK, and will work with the in-house digital team on producing content and measuring its effectiveness. The social media agency is tasked with helping SPAR increase its community and drive a new audience online.

Michael Lawless, brand and marketing director, SPAR UK commented:

“The SPAR brand is a well-established household name. We’ve undertaken a number of audience studies into where our existing and future consumer-base lies, and now want to ensure this is reflected in our online presence. This is particularly true for social media – it’s an increasingly important communications channel for us. We Are Social was highly recommended both creatively and strategically and has a proven track record for delivering real business results”.

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An essential summary of trading priorities, latest developments, and other key commercial insights for SPAR UK.

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