Our focus on human, social and relationship capital

Retail is Ireland’s largest industry, the largest private sector employer, and a critical contributor to the country’s economy.

As a market leader, the BWG Group has established operating policies that govern our engagements with major stakeholders and comply with all relevant legislation.

Our employees as an asset

At SPAR Ireland we believe that the hard work and commitment of our employees – our most valuable asset – must be respected. We are committed to providing a working environment that is not only safe, but also conducive to personal well-being and growth. BWG Group is a significant employer (both directly in its wholesale and retail operations, and indirectly through its extensive retail store network) and is fully compliant with all labour legislation. BWG Group maintains positive relations with the two recognised unions – the Services, Industrial, Professional and Technical Union (SIPTU) and the Mandate Trade Union – and no significant labour issues occurred during 2018.

The full employment economy is resulting in more pronounced employee risks, compounded by limited rental accommodation in urban centres. There has, for example, been a significant change in the availability of weekly waged employees, which has manifested itself in a drain of experienced pickers and qualified warehouse employees from the national distribution centre and a shortage of drivers across the wider market. Attracting skilled IT resources is also a challenge. BWG Foods is a well-established local employer that works hard to recruit, train and retain talented individuals across the business.

The core skills required by our management team include the ability to manage and integrate new acquisitions, service orientation and innovation. Our training focus this year was on negotiation skills.

SPAR Ireland is committed to employee learning and development, and continues to train all employees to ensure that they are adequately equipped to carry out tasks efficiently, safely and according to required standards.

Read more about our employees in the section on material relationships.

Health and safety

The health and safety of on-site employees is a highly regulated aspect of our business.

In terms of wellness initiatives, we do health screening for employees and have an Employee Assistance Programme that facilitates activities for head office employees such as pilates and gym session, running groups and nutrition talks.

All sites have passed the BWG Foods internal audit.

Food safety

As a food retailer, the BWG Group implements best practice to ensure the safety and quality of all our products. This is measured according to six key areas:

  • Industry standards, emerging issues and liaising with government bodies
  • Allergens
  • Supplier approval
  • Retail employee training
  • Food safety manuals
  • Store audits

Investing in our communities

SPAR Ireland’s community investment policy is to raise awareness of and funds for a few deserving charities and organisations within its communities.

These relate, among others, to cystic fibrosis, homelessness, hospice services, heart health and suicide prevention services. Our collaboration with Food Cloud, across BWG Group’s wholesale and retail businesses, connects our surplus food to nearby charities that need it, through an app and a website.

Through major sponsorships, the SPAR brand receives large-scale exposure and is associated with health and wellness.

BWG Foods, its employees and the wider retailer communities have been involved in several volunteer and charity initiatives this year:

  • Business in the community
  • Mizen to Malin cycle in aid of cystic fibrosis
  • Pieta House Cycle
  • Howth to Bray Walk