Spar, trademarked as SPAR, is a Dutch multinational retail chain and franchise brand with approximately 12,500 stores in 42 countries worldwide. It was founded in 1932 by Adriaan van Well. Through its affiliate organisations, Spar operates in most European countries, parts of Africa, Asia and Oceania. Its headquarters are in Amsterdam.
The name was originally DE SPAR, an acronym of the Dutch phrase Door Eendrachtig Samenwerken Profiteren Allen Regelmatig (English: through united co-operation everyone regularly profits). The acronym was chosen in order to resonate with the verb "spar" or "spaar" which means "save [money]" in some languages, among them Dutch, German, and Scandinavian languages. As the organisation expanded across Europe, the name was abbreviated by dropping the "DE" prefix. There are some international naming variants:
Spar was founded in 1932 in the South Holland town of Zegwaart (now Zoetermeer). In 1953 an International Spar office opened in Amsterdam to control and further develop the organisation throughout Europe and other continents. Most Spar stores are in Europe, but they can also be found in a few countries outside of Europe, such as Oman, Nigeria, South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Swaziland, Australia, Mauritius, China, India, Japan, United Arab Emirates, Vanuatu, Greenland and Angola.
A Spar store may be owned independently, by a franchisee, or be part of a chain, depending on the model applied in any given country. The owners of the parent company vary from country to country and may include the store owners themselves. The name and the current logo was most recently revised in 1968 by Raymond Loewy and has remained unchanged ever since.
In the United Kingdom Spar has become known primarily as a convenience store, although in Northern Ireland Spar operates using the subformat Eurospar as well. The company also has a large presence in the Republic of Ireland where it also uses the Eurospar subformat. Spar opened in the Republic of Vanuatu on December 1, 2009, ending Au Bon Marché's grocery monopoly.
Since 1996, the company has been a major sponsor of the European Athletic Association and its events.
In 1997, Spar was introduced to most United Kingdom military bases by the Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes (Naafi), where it sells a variety of civilian and military products.
The Dutch Spar is a member of Superunie, an inventory purchasing organization for a number of otherwise unaffiliated supermarket brands.
In July 2014 SPAR Group South Africa opened its first supermarket in Angola. In August 2014 the group acquired 80% of the BWG Group, which had outlets in Ireland and southwest England.
In 2015 Ahold bought all Czech stores and converted them into Albert super- and hypermarkets, however it had to get rid of some stores in order not to have a monopoly.
The first Spar store in Oman was inaugurated in January 2015 in Muscat. SPAR Oman plans to open more stores in the coming months as part of its expansion plans in Oman.
In March 2015 the first three stores in Indonesia were opened. Twelve stores are planned to open in the country by the end of 2015.
In most, but not all countries, SPAR operates stores of different types and sub-brands.
The Eurospar name is used in Europe and Superspar in South Africa. These are mid-sized supermarkets. They are designed to fit in a niche between convenience stores and traditional supermarkets.
These are hypermarkets and compete directly against major international chains such as Real, Carrefour, and Tesco.
This is the smallest type of store. They are designed for small sites and filling station forecourts. They are called Kwikspar in South Africa.
There was a Drive-Thru Spar on the Cliftonville Road in Belfast, Northern Ireland. This has now been converted to a Centra Store, and still has a Drive-Thru.
Some small Spar stores in Austria are called Spar Gourmet, since the Austrian Spar Group took over the supermarket chains Julius Meinl in 2000. The standard range is extended to local and global delicacies.
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