At its bi-annual meeting, Spar in France committed to a strong expansion plan for the coming years. The network intends to open 140 stores by the end of 2019, taking it to 1,000 units; while growing its turnover by 23.6%, to EUR1.1bn. Some 60% of the network has already been refurbished to the retailer’s latest concept, with plans for the rest to be converted within the next two years.
The new concept features differentiated, expert fresh food departments – be it specialty meats, fresh fish, baked goods, wines or spirits – with the aim of generating footfall. It also highlights local products, as well as foreign items sourced through Spar International.
The retailer’s new loyalty scheme has been introduced in 55% of the Spar stores – resulting in double digit growth in average basket spend in these outlets, according to the retailer. The loyalty card gives a 5% discount on private label products, among other benefits.
The banner’s network rationalisation and investment is beginning to pay off. Even so, the 2019 target will essentially allow the retailer to catch up on several years of decline; and we are cautious regarding Spar's ability to reach its objectives within the next 24 months. The updated concept and commercial proposition is expected to fuel same-store sales growth, but 70 net openings a year appears optimistic to us.
This would place Spar among the fastest growing minimarket banners in France over the period, looking at LZ Retailytics data; despite the low-key presence of Spar in the French retail landscape. In such a mature market, all retailers are looking to expand their footprint in the minimarket channel, creating competition for Spar on the franchise front. If not through recruitment, the banner could perhaps reach its 1,000-store goal via transfers from other minimarket banners within Groupe Casino's portfolio.