In 2012, in recognition of the strength of working in partnership with other organisations to improve the delivery of safe food to consumers, SPAR became a member of the Amsterdam Initiative against Malnutrition (AIM).
AIM, launched in 2009 as a joint initiative of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) and various other founding partners, works with more than 30 stakeholders to address the global problem of malnutrition.
So far, 10 projects have been initiated by AIM and its various member organisations. One of these is the Rural Retail Hubs (RRH) project, with SPAR International and SPAR South Africa being the leading local partners.
The RRH project, supported by Wageningen UR, Rijk Zwaan, GAIN and BoP Innovation Centre, is focused on improving local food grown by emerging small scale farmers in South Africa. Through the project, local farmers are supported in making smart decisions on what to produce and in what quantities. The support comes through training, ongoing agricultural guidance as well as access to finance and resources. Their production processes will be streamlined and the quality of their crops controlled. Additionally, the farmers will be trained in the entry level LocalGAP certification on good agricultural practice.
These improvements mean that small-scale emerging farmers are better equipped to meet the demand-driven requirements of local SPAR retailers obtaining produce from the fresh assembly points where farmers deliver their harvest. In turn, consumers in SPAR stores will have access to good quality, healthy, locally-grown produce, which will contribute to better standards of nutrition. Education on improved nutrition will be incorporated into the project through the affiliated retail outlets.
Since its inception, the project has changed in nature. It has progressed from focusing on a single store that deals with multiple farmers, to developing a strong network of independent retailers who work through fresh assembly points to procure safely grown fruits and vegetables from small-scale, emerging farmers.
The current project runs through to 2018 but the RRHs will be sustainable in the long term and provide a blue print for expansion to more locations in South Africa and in other markets.
Every year honours the best partner and best SPAR store in Switzerland.
In addition to sales figures, the factors taken into account when deciding the winners are: product availability and freshness, friendliness of staff, and store cleanliness. This year, SPAR Altendorf and EUROSPAR Lenzburg came out tops.
Christian Fässler took over the SPAR store in Altendorf as a franchise partner 14 years ago. Since then, he has been operating the store with his wife and six staff members with great passion and success. His passion for food is rooted in his past experience of working in the hospitality industry and is reflected in his store's extensive choice of fresh products, which he strives to source from local suppliers. The store also offers cheese and meet platters, which are vey popular. Mr Fässler attaches great importance to stocking a good range of SPAR Private Label products, as they offer customers excellent value for money. Customer interaction is an important part of the success of the Fässler family business.
EUROSPAR Lenzburg, managed by experienced retailer, Jolanda Fahrni and staffed by a team of 22 passionate employees and three apprentices, also prides itself on its warm and friendly environment. In the meat department for instance, customers are advised on the preparation methods of the meat they purchase and are also given menu suggestions and tips.
The store offers three lunchtime menus with a variety of side dishes, meeting the needs of the growing number of vegetarian customers. Mrs Fahrni's dedication to her store, her employees and her customers, is why she was awarded SPAR Store of the Year for the third time.
It was an evening of great celebration for CJ Lang, who were crowned best wholesale business at the prestigious Scottish Wholesale Achievers awards!
The awards are created and organised by the Scottish Wholesale Association, and recognise professionalism and excellence across all sectors of the industry in Scotland.
CJ Lang fought off stiff competition from wholesalers all over the country to win the sought-after 'Champion of Champions' award (sponsored by tobacco company Philip Morris). The award was the pinnacle of an exceptional evening which saw CJ Lang win a raft of awards categories, to include Best Symbol Group (sponsored by Cott Beverages)and Best Delivered Operation (sponsored by Imperial Tobacco). 'Shop and Win' was also a worthy runner-up in the Best Marketing Initiative category, designed to drive footfall in store.
Judges pointed to CJ Lang's "passion and commitment to their business", with Karen Murray, regional sales manager at Philip Morris, saying: "The market is very competitive in Scotland and this year's Champion of Champions displayed a great winning mindset throughout, demonstrating best practice in many areas. This wholesaler is clearly always looking to improve its business."
Achievements in certificated training in South Africa are celebrated at an official certification ceremony where people are individually handed over their certificate on stage by senior management. The ceremony is followed up by a dinner party, celebrating the success of people and business together.
In 2014, SPAR Austria conducted the largest employee survey in the company’s history. More than 30,000 employees from four countries, including 20,000 from Austria, participated in the survey.
The results were very positive for SPAR Austria: With a satisfaction rate of 83%, the company maintained the same high scores recorded in surveys from 2010 and 2012. The survey also revealed that nine out of ten SPAR employees in Austria would recommend SPAR as an employer to friends, as did Romana Karner und Helga Hofer.
Romana Karner is very satisfied with her career at SPAR. After having worked in different departments, Karner decided to stay in the Buying Division during her last year of training. Since 2006, Romana has been Head of Buying in the Fresh Goods department of SPAR Styria and Southern Burgenland. "I still enjoy this job, as it is varied and challenging. It is true: If you show commitment and love to work with people, you have many opportunities at SPAR!"
Helga Hofer, 26, has achieved a great deal at such a young age. In 2003, she started to work at a EUROSPAR in Gleisdorf and since November 2012, she has been working as Store Manager in the SPAR Supermarket, Graz Friedrichgasse. "I can strongly recommend following a training at SPAR Austria," says Helga. "The training offers many extras such a team training, specialist courses, seminars, driving lessons and more. And you are not just a number at SPAR. We are a real family."
The Staff Zone area was integrated into the A.F. Blakemore website to help colleagues to access key business information. Dedicated to the needs of employees, the Staff Zone features business news, basic HR policies, learning & development opportunities, the company’s brand guidelines and a monthly business update from the company’s managing director.
SPAR has launched a new training package that will provide retailers with the tools to deliver unbeatable customer service standards. SPARkling Service has been relaunched with increased emphasis placed upon in-store behaviours, continuous improvement and community involvement.
The package has been designed to enable a "pick and mix" approach at local level. Various products available include:
The revised standards are easier for learners to remember and are focused on behaviours which also encourages continuous improvement. Emphasis has also been placed on the importance of retail stores involvement in the communities in which they serve.
The five training modules within the SPARkling service training programme has been developed to make a new, E-Learning SPARkling Service package for SPAR retailers.
Philip Marchant, SPAR UK Corporate Development Director has spearheaded the project with the support of a national working group comprised of key people from across each SPAR region.
SPAR Austria has been rewarded with the Seal of Approval Workplace health certificate, thanks to its firm commitment to strengthening health awareness with its 'Healthy at SPAR' initiative.
Employees at SPAR have access to a wide range of health activities from vaccinations and eye tests, to running clubs, massages and lectures on current health topics, used in conjunction with the SPAR Health Card.
To mark this success, on February 6th, SPAR was handed the Seal of Approval Workplace health award by Health Minister Alois Stöger and Chairman of the Salzburg health insurance Siegfried Schluckner at the ORF studio in Salzburg.
In addition to numerous health services, judges congratulated SPAR for the healthy management culture, health infrastructure and various measures for mental health and flexible working time.
Dr Gerhard Drexel, SPAR Austria CEO, said: "As one of the largest employers in Salzburg, SPAR is aware of its responsibility for its employees.
"Health is a joint task, and we want to be an attractive, modern employer, offering a comfort-able working environment in addition to professional challenges."
A dedicated body manages the 'Healthy at SPAR' in the SPAR central office in Salzburg, offering solutions for more than 1,000 employees on nutrition, exercise, relaxation and safety.
SPAR China has been recognised for its highly innovative Online Training Academy for retail employees with a prestigious award from the China Chainstore and Franchise Association.
SPAR China took home the Retail Innovation of the Year award thanks to its online training scheme, which allows employees of individual stores to register, develop and carry out their own personal training on a closed portal accessible via theSPAR China website.
Training covers all aspects of their jobs, including customer service, stock keeping, merchandising, hygiene, fresh foods, bakery preparation and health & safety.
Those involved in the online scheme can watch best practice videos online, giving examples of successful retail tips and advice from other SPAR countries, adapted to suit the market in China. There is also a training community where participants can share their experiences.
Participants can complete a wide range of courses online, with the site registering completion time, start date, finish date and the level they achieved.
Tobias Wasmuht, Managing Director of SPAR China said: "We are delighted that our work and team efforts have been celebrated by the rapidly growing retail industry in China.
"This award shows that SPAR China has been recognised as a leading company within the Chinese retail industry.
The training scheme is available to SPAR employees in all regions of China through independent SPAR partners in each area of the country.
SPAR Austria has started a pilot project called ‘Barrier free shopping’ to make shopping easier for blind people in 15 SPAR and EUROSPAR stores in Salzburg.
SPAR Austria, in cooperation with the Salzburg Blinden- and Sehbehindertenverband (Blind and Visually Impaired Federation), has begun a pilot project called ‘Barrier free shopping'. Since November 2011, striking yellow columns facilitate an easy shopping experience for blind people in 15 SPAR and EUROSPAR stores in Salzburg. At the touch of a Help button in Braille positioned at the entrance of the store, support can be requested. All SPAR staff have been trained to assist visually impaired people with their grocery shopping.
In this way, SPAR enables visually impaired people to do their grocery shopping without the help of a neighbour, friend or relative. In addition to the Help button, menus in Bistros with bigger fonts and braille are available.
Managing Director of SPAR Salzburg, ChristophHolzer explains: "The pilot project will be launched simultaneously in the provinces of Salzburg and Tyrol, and is currently limited to the cities of Salzburg and Innsbruck." He added, "We are delighted to have such an excellent partner who has significantly contributed to this project. All employees have gone through professional training and in addition, the topic has also been included in the ethical teachings of our SPAR Academy."
Joseph Schinwald, chairman of the Blind and Visually Impaired Federation is happy about the cooperation; "Blind and visually impaired people have to cope with difficult tasks in their everyday lives. Therefore any alleviation is an important step towards a better quality of life. We are pleased to get professional support from SPAR. It was important that this idea is sustainable and helps impaired people. We found in SPAR a congenial partner and we would like to say thank you."
According to statistics, approximately 2.5% of Austrians are blind or severely visually impaired. Mr. Holzer explains: "Shopping is almost impossible without the help of another person, most of them need support of neighbours or aquaintances. SPAR wants to pursue its role as a local grocer and wants to support people who have handicaps or are simply too old to follow an independent lifestyle." After an acoustic signal appears, employees can accompany the shoppers, provide them with support for product location, assist with the choice of products, indicate special offers as well as assist with the payment of the groceries.
One of the main philosophies of SPAR is to take on social responsibility and to support where help is needed. "We do so in different ways, for instance with donations or cooperations with trustworthy partners such as Caritas, Rettet das Kind Salzburg, or the Blind- and Sehbehindertenverband," says Christoph Holzer.
Through this project, SPAR Wörgl has won the TRIGOS award for Corporate Social Responsibility under the category "Social".
Managing Director of SPAR Tirol and Salzburg, Dr. Christof Rissbacher said, "We are delighted to receive this award. It is an external confirmation that the commitment of our 3,000 employees to a good cause does pay off."