In 2012 we celebrate the 80th
anniversary of the foundation of the SPAR partnership in 1932 by
Adriaan van Well. This partnership has given SPAR a unique
competitive advantage and has driven the expansion of SPAR
throughout Europe and into developing markets.
The Origin of SPAR
The story of SPAR in the early years is the story of
Adriaan Van Well, a visionary Dutch wholesaler. He was inspired by
a simple yet powerful philosophy that independent wholesalers and
retailers can achieve more by working together than working
In the 1930's there was
evidence that multiple chains were expanding in Europe. As a
response, SPAR was launched in 1932 as DESPAR, an acronym of a
slogan: "Door Eendrachtig Samenwerken Profiteren Allen
Regelmatig". This translates in English as: "All benefit from
SPAR in Dutch means fir tree and
from the start the fir tree symbol was used to identify the
The internationalisation of
SPAR continued to develop in the Netherlands during the
1930s and went international in 1947 when SPAR was introduced into
Belgium. In the late 1940s the name was abbreviated from DESPAR to
SPAR International was established
in 1953 to support and develop the SPAR concept internationally.
SPAR then expanded rapidly in Europe during the 1950s.
By 1959 the SPAR Family had
extended to include wholesalers and retailers in 9 countries.
The first SPAR International
Congress in the Netherlands in 1955 was particularly
It signalled the ambition of SPAR
to move beyond its European origins and become a worldwide
Over the next 20 years, SPAR continued to increase its presence in
Europe and entered Africa and Asia, where the SPAR concept of
partnership between wholesalers and retailers was again recognised.
During this period the SPAR family expanded to 14 countries on
A significant development in the
sophistication of the SPAR marketing proposition took place at this
time. SPAR International introduced the current SPAR Logo in
The period 1980-1999 saw SPAR
continue to grow in its existing markets and also expand its
presence to an additional 7 countries. By 1999, SPAR was
established in 21 countries.
SPAR Modernising food
retailing in developing countries
Since 2000, SPAR has entered the major developing
countries of Russia, China and India. SPAR has also continued to
expand in Central and Eastern Europe and also in Africa.
The continued success of SPAR in
existing countries and the level of interest expressed by new
countries, proves the relevance of the SPAR Partnership model in
modern food retailing.
International has been fortunate to have found SPAR
partners who provided vision and leadership over the last 80 years.
Many of them have been recognised by the award of the Van Well Medal,
first awarded to our founder Adriaan van Well.