Spar has launched a radical package of initiatives as it sets out to reinforce its position in a fiercely competitive marketplace and realise its goal of becoming the biggest and best convenience retailer in the UK.

Spar managing director Jerry Marwood announced the programme on the eve of the company’s retailer conference in Cape Town, which he described as “one of the most significant in the history of Spar”.

He said the company’s mission was to provide the most profitable retail solution for independent retailers, suppliers and shareholders, and quipped that: “Our task is to put our people further up the rich list.” Marwood said the company’s ambitions would be achieved using a four-pronged approach by: being the best solution for independent retailers; providing a unique customer proposition; cutting costs; and behaving like a big retailer.

The initiatives include the signing of a contract with Excel Logistics to manage the January 2005 launch of an inbound supply project to consolidate Spar buying of a range of goods across all mainland regional distribution centres. The company will also be implementing a core range to make Spar more valuable to suppliers and capitalise on its size to improve its buying power. The Spar own-label lines will also be overhauled to raise penetration by a third to 30% of sales in two years. Other initiatives include the launch of a new information-packed website called Spar Virtual Academy; and a store improvement programme, Operation Excellence.