Building an employee base reflecting South Africa’s demographic diversity is a crucial part of our social mandate and contributes to SPAR’s success.

Employee demographics are a core measure of successful and meaningful transformation embracing diversity, promoting equal opportunity and creating access to a wide range of skills, talents and ideas. Transformation is a priority for the group, and we have allocated this responsibility to our executives.

4 476

Employees across our corporate offices, distribution centres and warehouses in South Africa

(2018: 3 743)


Total permanent black employees as a percentage of total employees

(2018: 84.8%)


Total permanent black female employees as a percentage of total employees

(2018: 21.3%)

No complaints/fines

We adhere to relevant South African labour legislation and standards

Download the employee data fact sheet with additional detail regarding SPAR’s black employees as a percentage of our total employees and the split between male and female across all race groups.

While employee retention is important to us, we recognise that an appropriate level of turnover is healthy and creates growth opportunities. SPAR’s ability to attract diverse, qualified employees further reflects the strength of our brand as an employer of choice.


New employees

(2018: 91)


Employee exits

(2018: 242)


Group turnover

(2018: 6.9%)

Download the employee data fact sheet with additional detail about new employee hires and employee turnover according to age, gender and percentage of black employees.

Our broad-based black economic empowerment score is measured as a group in South Africa and includes the central office and eight distribution centres. The group is a level 5 contributor (2018: level 6), with a 80% recognition level.

Download our rating per the respective elements and our broad-based black economic empowerment scorecard here.

Employee development programmes are run through the SPAR Academy of Learning. These programmes are crucial to attracting, retaining and developing a diverse talent pool and are supplemented by ad hoc training. In line with our transformation imperative, development programmes target previously disadvantaged candidates and female employees.


Hours of training received by executives and non-executives

40 256

Hours of training received by female employees

SPAR participates in national efforts to address unemployment including the youth employment service (YES) initiative and jumpstart

During the year, 54 504 days (2018: 16 316) were spent on our corporate office, distribution centres, as well as our retailer and retail employee training in South Africa. Courses cover a wide spectrum from picker and to cashier training to executive development for executive members and national guild retailers. In total, R28.4 million was spent on training (2018: R22.9 million), which reached 89 500 employees (2018: 7 204).

The SPAR Academy of Learning launched four new programmes in the past year:

  • The executive leadership development programme (NQF level 8 aligned) was launched in 2019 after a pilot of this 12-month leadership programme ran in 2018. This is the first programme of its kind to include head office, distribution centre leaders and national guild retailers. The programme includes an evaluation of SPAR’s relevance, strategy and processes in terms of the global economy. Participants apply frameworks and tools to ensure sustainability and use integrated thinking and ethical reasoning to assess the role of business in society.
  • The future leaders programme is an eight-month programme designed and implemented in the Western Cape for retailers’ children and family members or young and upcoming shareholders in their businesses. It prepares them to continue their parents’ legacy and facilitate the generational handover. The programme will be rolled out in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape in 2020. It includes elements of entrepreneurial and systemic thinking, stakeholder collaboration and emotional intelligence.
  • The new management growth programme is a revamped version of the 18-month mini Master of Business Administration programme, run in collaboration with the Rhodes Business School which has been running for 10 years. This year it included 10 of our most prominent young SPAR and Build it retailers and 15 of our top talent from the distribution centres and head office. It included four immersive experiences, focused on personal development, coaching and 24 e-learning modules.
  • The new SPAR leadership development programme underwent a significant overhaul to align its outcomes to the new SPAR supermarket strategy and now includes seasoned, high-profile retailers. The 14-month experiential programme is designed to develop leadership capabilities in a volatile, changing and connected economy. Five retailers and 11 top talented SPAR distribution centre and head office executives and senior leaders attended. The programme is unique because is designed around specific models, frameworks and highly experiential learning methodologies.

“I would with no doubt recommend the executive leadership development programme to all prospective candidates within SPAR. There is so much uncertainty in today’s global environment which directly or indirectly impact our businesses with added local complexities and volatility in markets making this course perfect in navigating so much ambiguity to stay ahead of the game. The course removed the fear of the unknown and made me realise that by continually being innovative, it is possible to not only succeed but grow the business exponentially.” Abel Mponda, retailer

“I would definitely recommend the programme because of the interaction with different retailers from different distribution centres and the high-level focus on the future, growth, innovation and leadership. The interaction from guest speakers was exciting, interesting and relevant. Gave me hope for the future in an ever-changing environment.” – Theo Borstlap, retailer

Download the employee data fact sheet with additional detail about our various skills development programmes and the average hours of training received by SPAR’s employees according to gender and employee category.

Our comprehensive risk management programme protects our employees’ health and safety. It is regularly audited by an external risk management service provider. Components of the programme include emergency planning, health and safety, transport, fire and security. Implementation is monitored and reviewed continuously, underpinned by the understanding that legislative compliance is the minimum standard and excellence should be pursued.

Most health and safety incidents occur at distribution centres where employees handle bulk goods and operate heavy machinery. Therefore, each distribution centre has a Health and Safety Committee overseeing regular training and emergency drills, and resolving or escalating issues that arise.


Employees who received health and safety training

(2018: 887)

8 808

Employees who visited on-site clinics

(2018: 10 865)


Deaths on duty

(2018: 0)

Download the employee data fact sheet for additional detail about our health and safety performance.

SPAR actioned its commitment to the youth employment services (YES) programme by recruiting 450 learners. YES recognises the critical role the youth play in shaping our economy and our country.

From September 2019, 450 YES participants will be joining SPAR stores. This follows a recruitment process focusing on attracting youth with scarce skills or the potential to offer these skills in stores. These typically include bakery, butchery, home-meal replacements, fresh produce, Beantree and goods receiving training, as well as plumbing and electricity for Build it.

The programme will be done in collaboration with suppliers, and will combine practical learning with e-learning and classroom elements.

We strive to produce high-calibre trainees who will have the best chance at success; retailers will be vying for their services at the end of the programme.

With the first group of SPAR executive managers and senior retailers completing the SPAR executive leadership programme, the second group commenced their programme. Feedback from the first programme was exceptionally positive as it brought retailers and managers together, and helped them look at the business in terms of joint challenges.

Since the first programme’s success, retailers requested that SPAR create a similar, structured and formal development opportunity for retailers’ children, who are set to be the next generation of SPAR retailers. This programme, developed in collaboration with the University of Stellenbosch Business School, will be fully funded by retailers who see the benefit in their succession planning.

The two biggest challenges in growing and transforming the SPAR footprint is the availability of experienced black retailers and funding. We continue attracting and developing retailers from within the SPAR network, including identifying and training new entrants and exploring alternative funding mechanisms.

Achievements to date include opening at least two stores in Soweto and several rural stores in KwaZulu-Natal. New SPAR Express stores are fully or partly owned by black retailers with a minimum 20% shareholding. SPAR provides funding to prospective retailers at preferential rates.

By the end of the financial year, there were approximately 320 black-owned SPAR stores.

The transformation of our supply base is challenging. The bulk of our major suppliers are non-compliant. We are working with them to drive improvement and compliance.

Investing in communities

SPAR invested R18.2 million (2018: R17.7 million) in corporate social investment initiatives and R27.2 million (2018: R26.1 million) in various sponsorship projects during the financial year. These contributions make a real difference to people and help inspire them to do and be more.

As a business and family, SPAR cannot hope to succeed without talented, motivated young people. This is the fourth year that SPAR worked in partnership with social enterprise, FutureMe, to connect and benefit businesses and high school learners.

This year, we collaborated with FutureMe to develop an innovative talent pipeline solution called the SPAR Go-Getter Experience. For 200 learners, the selection process was an exciting way to learn about career opportunities in the retail industry. For SPAR, the programme provided a platform for communicating our values, building our employer brand and identifying the next generation of our family.

The SPAR Go-Getter Experience comprised three events:

  • Career open day: we showcased careers in marketing, logistics and the culinary arts to 100 youngsters.
  • Selection bootcamp: 40 learners participated in work-readiness challenges ranging from customer service roleplays to moral debates and a logistics-themed race against the clock.
  • Learning journey: we invited 30 learners to guided tours of SUPERSPAR Rosmead, SPAR SONSTRAAL, and the SPAR Western Cape distribution centre. The day ended with a practical information session about finding holiday work and launching a career at SPAR.

“Why do I want to join the SPAR family? It’s simple — I want to be part of something great. I want to be in a workplace where I’m happy to be at work even on my bad days. I love the warm atmosphere and the amount of energy I receive when encountering a SPAR worker or even just walking into a store.” – Byron, grade 11

More than 300 vulnerable children from destitute communities find care and support at the Gozololo Centre for Needy Children. The KwaZulu-Natal distribution centre has been supporting Gozololo for about 15 years by providing them with dry groceries every month and perishable products every week. Gozololo operates three centres situated in the greater Durban area providing crèche and aftercare facilities.

SPAR KwaZulu-Natal volunteers visited Gozololo on Mandela Day as part of SPAR KwaZulu-Natal’s contribution of 67 minutes towards a worthy cause. This year, they served meals sourced from the local KwaMashu SUPERSPAR retailer to the children. Donations like cot bed mattresses, toys, stationery and school bags are made based on needs analyses conducted every year.

The SPAR KwaZulu-Natal distribution centre also supports Ingane Yami Village, a non-profit organisation established to help children affected by the growing Aids crisis in KwaZulu-Natal. The village provides a safe and supportive family environment where each child lives in a home with five other children and a foster mother. The distribution centre provides food via the local Hillcrest SUPERSPAR.

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