Spar is continuously addressing shopper needs through staying up to date with latest trends

Q&A with… Colin Donnelly, Spar sales director


Brand Central

25 October 2022

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Sales director: Colin Donnelly

Number of stores nationwide: 400+

Typical store size: varies

Head office: BWG House, Greenhills Road, Tallaght, Dublin 24, D24 Y722

Wholesale partner: BWG Foods

Type of distribution network: BWG National Distribution Centre (NDC) servicing fresh, ambient and alcohol to all Spar stores nationwide


Social media: Ireland; Instagram: @spar_ireland; Twitter: @SPARIreland

Tagline: ‘Under the Tree at Spar’

Colin Donnelly

Q: Working in partnership with retailers, what support and advice do you provide to enable them to run their businesses more successfully?

A: For Spar it certainly is a partnership with our independent Spar retailers, we work tirelessly to provide consumers with the most innovative award-winning in-store offering and shopping experience they could wish for. The cornerstone of our relationship is two way-communication and mutual respect. Our retailers provide an excellent service to their local communities and we support and champion their needs in every way possible.

Q: How have you innovated to deliver in-store concepts and a store design that consumers are drawn towards?

Spar Deli has consistently been a stand-out offering for customers who are used to purchasing only the finest quality fresh food

A: As a recognised leader in retail foodservice within the market, Spar is very proud of our rich heritage in food and beverage innovation built up over many years. Through our dedicated Food & Beverage Innovation team, Spar takes great pride in being innovators and trendsetters. This is particularly evident in Spar’s fresh food offering. Spar Deli has consistently been a stand-out offering for customers who are used to purchasing only the finest quality fresh food, either food-to-go or food to buy and consume in-store.

Spar proved itself a market leader and innovator this year through responding to changing consumer trends via the introduction of many hot and cold counter concepts which are scalable according to store size and local customer demographic.

Q: As the cost-of-living-crisis continues to affect consumers’ budgets, value-for-money has become even more important. How are you ensuring you provide the best value and promotions possible for your retailers?

A: We are cognisant of the financial strain amongst many Irish consumers and there is no doubt that value is a key priority for many shoppers. Spar own brand forms an integral part of any Spar retailer’s assortment. Offering a value driven range focusing on providing shoppers with ‘As good as the best for less’ across a variety of products and categories, significantly improves the overall Spar offer and is paramount to our success.

We have also introduced an additional value range called Spar No.1. This new range extends across many categories and strengthens our commitment to support our retailers at a time when value will be more important than ever. Through our continuous investment in our promotions, we will work closely with our suppliers to provide the best value possible for our retailers and, in turn, for the consumer.

Q: How extensive is your brand marketing programme and how do you ensure your messaging resonates with consumers?

Spar Deli has consistently been a stand-out offering for customers who are used to purchasing only the finest quality fresh food

A: For the last six decades, Spar has developed strong relationships with its valued independent retailers, and this ensures the brand has a direct link with the consumer through its network of over 400 independent stores. The strength of these partnerships allows Spar as a brand to stay close to consumers, understanding their needs and wants. As a brand, Spar is positioned to suit all consumers, no matter the time of day, week, month or year. This positioning is carried through the brand’s marketing programme that taps into the varied interests and needs of Spar’s wide reaching customer base.

Through an extensive and always-on brand marketing programme, Spar holds at its core the positioning that ‘We’re always changing, under the tree at Spar’, and this is evident through the varied marketing campaigns executed throughout each year. Spar reaches its wide consumer base through key sports sponsorships as well as its Spar Choices Better healthy lifestyle initiative fronted by Irish football captain Seamus Coleman. More recently, Spar pivoted to resonate with even more consumers through the announcement of a three-year partnership with brand ambassador and Olympic Champion boxer, Kellie Harrington, who fronts the Spar Community Fund which has seen Spar and Kellie award €20,000 since December 2021 to deserving community clubs and groups around the country.

Laterally Spar reaches other corners of its consumer base through four weekly appearances of Spar Carrigstown on RTÉ’s much-loved soap Fair City, while the brand flexes across the generations to engage in quirky activations around chicken fillet rolls and their plant-based counterparts amongst a younger demographic. As the brand gets ready to celebrate its 60th birthday, there will be much evidence of its ‘always changing ethos’ with a big year of celebrations planned ‘under the tree at Spar’.

Q: How are you working to support local Irish suppliers and deliver quality Irish produce for your retailers?

A: Every year, through Spar’s parent company, leading retail and wholesale group BWG Foods, we provide unique platforms to Ireland’s indigenous suppliers – and emerging Irish businesses – to showcase their goods and offerings to a wide array of retailers.

We have grown our traditional Trade Show (the biggest one-day sale of its kind in Ireland) to more strategic “seasonal” trade show events for our retailers to avail of access to and offers from our suppliers. As one of Ireland’s largest wholesale and retail companies, BWG Foods has dedicated relationships with a significant number of Irish suppliers. Our commitment to Irish produce is a key strategic element of our buying and we have a strong track record of supporting Irish suppliers both large and small across the country through BWG’s partnership with independent Spar retailers.

Q: How would you sum up your main goals for the next 12 months?

A: To continue to support our Spar retailers and partners is the number one priority for the brand. We all face what will inevitably be very challenging and somewhat uncertain times ahead that are beyond our control. Spar retailers are very resilient and all are entrepreneurs in their own right and this is what has continually been the success of the Spar brand. It will be more important to work strategically together to overcome these challenges together. Spar has a special birthday coming in the year ahead and we have very ambitious plans to deliver as part of this.






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