Spar has reported overall sales up 8.1%, with like-for-like sales up 5.2%, in the three months (Q1) to July. Jerry Marwood, Spar UK MD, said the latest figures were very positive compared to most industry benchmarks, with a continued optimistic outlook for the months ahead.

Marwood said: “The latest statistics demonstrate the inherent strength of the convenience market and confirm that within that SPAR has developed a robust programme. The past few months have provided us with a good opportunity to reiterate our strong value message."

The group recently re-launched the entire SPAR own brand range and added 250 new lines, which resulted in sales of the SPAR own brand to grow. The group said there had been percentage increases in most categories with fresh foods (chilled) now accounting for 50% of Spar own brand total turnover. Distribution of new lines is up 20% with some of these featuring in over 1,800 stores. The new packaging has also been used as an effective communications tool, but Marwood felt that the group’s 50% year on year increased financial investment in television, radio, national press and digital advertising had also been a successful and comprehensive approach in getting its message across to the consumer.

He added: "Grocery sales continue to show robust growth with promotional activity resulting in an increase of 22% in promoted items over the same period last year. We have introduced for the first time a lunchtime Meal Deal offer for £2 and when a sandwich, drink and snack sells for just £2 - we feel (and its seems our customers agree with us) that we’re offering a great promotion. We have a very broad promotional strategy and have which is creating lots of activity SPAR own brand and brands alike. We also have special occasion, one-off promotions, such as half price bottles of Champagne.

“Getting our unique message across is a requirement to grow demand and we are applying a variety of marketing methods that are aimed at changing customer’s perceptions of the convenience market as whole but SPAR in particular. We want consumers to be confident about the quality, value and availability of good food in our stores as well as the daily convenience products that they have come to expect and part of the strategy employed to do this has involved the creation of the SPAR guarantee, designed as a quality guarantee to all our consumers.”