The SPAR Group Ltd (SPAR) is the only listed member of SPAR International. Through its unique and resilient business model, SPAR offers sustainable long-term growth opportunities for investors seeking exposure to the food retail sectors in South Africa, Ireland, Switzerland and more recently, Poland. SPAR is listed on the JSE in the food and drug retail sector. Its performance meets the globally recognised environmental, social and governance inclusion standards of the FTSE4Good index series.


SPAR’s unique voluntary trading model meets the needs of retailers who want independence but seek the benefits of economies of scale.

The model is based on two main capabilities:

  • managing an efficient, sustainable supply chain; and
  • maintaining sound relationships with five key stakeholder groups.

SPAR’s position in the supply chain is critical as a balancing force, as all players in the trading network must be successful for the long-term sustainability of the model.

SPAR’s regional distribution centres manage the risks associated with inventory and distribution, ensuring that retailers can focus on running their stores, shaping demand and generating cash. The success of retailers drives the success of SPAR, underpinned by a common purpose to inspire people to do and be more. SPAR supports and sponsors a broad variety of community-based programmes. The most successful retailers in our group are the ones who are passionate about the communities they serve, and in turn continue to be supported by their communities.

South Africa is our home and it remains our biggest market and the key area of focus for the group. The formal food and grocery retail market in South Africa is highly competitive. There are four main players competing for the custom of financially stressed consumers and available retail sites.

Our growth is driven by continued store growth in an expanding range of store formats, rebranding and refurbishments as well as innovative, new in-store concepts which continue to be well received by retailers and consumers. We are currently exploring pockets of attractive growth in the informal food economy in South Africa. The business will benefit from a pick-up in inflation, which is showing an upward trend.

We operate under a decentralised management structure with a strong team of divisional managing directors across our distribution centres. Well-managed inventory, stringent operating cost controls and improved retailer loyalty, enables SPAR to deliver continued solid results.

Please refer to SPAR’s strategy and business model, which complements the investment case.

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investment case at a glance

Our core business is managing the supply chain, which differentiates us from other corporate food retailers. The success of SPAR’s unique trading model is based on our capability to manage a highly efficient, sustainable supply chain, underpinned by strong operational expertise and an extensive distribution infrastructure.

For more than 56 years, we have developed specialist operational expertise in managing a wholesale supply chain in South Africa – from sourcing, product development and warehousing to distribution logistics.

SPAR offers a differentiated food retail brand and has developed a growing range of private label brands and in-store concepts which continue to offer consumer value and quality and remain a shopping differentiator for our retailers. The private label strategy is simple – as good as the best for less. SPAR is a brand that consumers trust and herein lies the success of private label.

SPAR’s far reaching distribution network, coupled with retailer freedom to adapt and focus their offering and store formats for the communities they serve, provides an adaptable model across all income groups.

The trading model relies on strong relationships. We maintain a network of quality and sound relationships with material stakeholders in all territories, while developing an efficient and resilient food chain, focused on excellence in fresh and the promotion of nutritious food offerings.

Our supermarket strategy directly addresses real South African challenges, such as nutrition, transformation and caring about consumers. We deliver on our intent to create a new future together: the SPAR rural hub programme is a flagship example of collaboration between small-scale farmers, communities and stores to improve food security, affordability and nutrition for rural communities in South Africa. The rural hub business model develops local supply chains of fresh produce in a cost-efficient and environmentally responsible way.

We collaborate with our stakeholders to implement environmentally friendly, sustainable business solutions that support local economies.

Read more about our material relationships here.

The SPAR store formats offer a wide range of categories across grocery and liquor. In Southern Africa categories expand to include building materials and pharmaceutical products through the Build it and Pharmacy at SPAR store offerings.

The acquisition of international businesses in recent years has increased investor exposure to hard currency based earnings, with just under one third of group turnover denominated in hard currency.

International growth potential through a replicated and familiar trade model

SPAR has developed a robust track record for international growth, by acquiring opportunities to operate the trading model in Ireland, Switzerland and more recently in Poland. It also has a joint venture opportunity in Sri Lanka.

This growing and diversified geographic footprint reduces concentration and currency risk. Value is created through shared information and best practice application, while partnering with local talent and expertise to grow our businesses.

The Irish opportunity presented a business with good growth prospects. We were attracted to the deal based on price and the opportunity to create value and drive growth in partnership with a strong local management team.

Since August 2014, we have created significant value through acquiring an 80% stake in the BWG Group, who owns SPAR in Ireland and South West England, among other brands – this multi-brand strategy has proven to be the right approach in Ireland.We have opened new stores, made three additional acquisitions and, have grown revenue over the period to €1.5 billion.

SPAR will gain full ownership of the Irish business by 2022.

Read more about the performance of this business in the financial review.

The Swiss opportunity to invest involved one of the last remaining large family-owned businesses in the Swiss grocery retail market. As an established business, it has been operating for 30 years, with a 2.3% market share – a strong base in a stable market. It ran a much larger portion of company-owned stores compared to South Africa or Ireland.

Since acquiring 60% of the ordinary shares in SPAR Holdings AG in 2016, we have appointed a South African managing director, sold non-performing corporate stores and brought new energy to the business culture.

We are clear on our strategy to operate within the convenience sector and our in-store concepts are progressing well within this market. This remains a steady, low-risk investment. We have the option to acquire the balance of the ordinary shares in SPAR Holdings AG in 2021.

Read more about the performance of this business in the financial review.

SPAR’s opportunity to enter Poland consists of two parts:

  1. the SPAR licence to operate the brand in Poland with potential access to an existing independent store base of SPAR-branded stores.
  2. With effect 1 October 2019, an 80% stake in 66 stores and distribution centre assets pertaining to the PiP group.

The combination of i) and ii) above, presents a unique ‘green field’ opportunity in a growing marketplace to develop wholesale and distribution capabilities to service c.200 stores in the short to medium term. The PiP stores are to be rebranded as SPAR, SPAR Express and EUROSPAR stores in due course.

Poland has a population of 38 million and is considered the most developed and mature economy across Central and Eastern Europe. The economic outlook remains positive. PiP and SPAR Poland have small market shares, however there are thousands of independent retailers operating in Poland, and herein lies the opportunity for SPAR and its investors.


Sri Lanka has emerged as a relatively new retail hotspot in Southeast Asia since multinationals started rapidly entering the supermarket segment in 2015. This was driven by rising consumer disposable income, increased urbanisation, growing tourism and the shift to a more formal food retail economy.

SPAR established a joint venture with Ceylon Biscuits Ltd and was granted the SPAR licence to operate in Sri Lanka in 2016. In April 2018, the first SPAR store opened in Thalawathugoda, Colombo. There are currently three stores in operation and four under construction. The stores have set new standards and benchmarks for food retailers in the country.