Delegation from SPAR China Visits Ireland to Learn about World Class Convenience Retailing
Ireland’s convenience retail sector was in the spotlight this week as an influential delegation from SPAR Shanxi – a province in China - flew into Ireland for a specially organised ‘look and learn’ trip of leading SPAR stores across Dublin and Kildare.
SPAR Shanxi, which primarily operates the larger hypermarket format, is looking to diversify into smaller convenience SPAR stores typically seen in Ireland and the group of eight visitors led by Mrs Li Aixiang VP of Operations, SPAR Shanxi - were keen to understand more about this country’s success in local convenience retailing.
This visit marks the second trip by a SPAR delegation this year, signifying an ever deepening relationship with Ireland. In May, a large Chinese contingent joined 270 delegates from 34 countries across the globe for the 58th International SPAR Congress - an event hosted by SPAR Ireland to coincide with the brand’s 50th anniversary in this country – taking the opportunity to meet with several Irish suppliers.
This month SPAR China agreed a new deal with Ocean Jade Ireland Seafood - a cooperative between Carr Shellfish, Sofrimar, Shellfish De La Mer and McBride Fishing Company – to begin supplying fresh Irish fish from local fishermen, to some of its SPAR hypermarkets in Shandong, Beijing, Shanxi and Guangdong. The move comes as part of the company’s drive to enhance the international range of fresh produce for customers in its major stores and meet the needs of affluent shoppers in some of China’s biggest cities.
Willie O’Byrne, Managing Director, BWG Foods (owners and operators of SPAR Ireland) said, “SPAR Ireland is, by now, well known in China and the two countries have built a strong affiliation over recent years. Internationally, Ireland is considered a strong partner country for SPAR and following the International Congress hosted here earlier this year, is also now seen as a country with a lot of export potential. SPAR Ireland has already facilitated meetings between SPAR China and several Irish suppliers and we are delighted to welcome another delegation – this time to showcase some of the world’s best examples of convenience retailing. This tour demonstrates the type of partnerships that can be developed internationally thanks to SPAR’s connections in countries all around the world, which we believe also reaps rewards for the broader economy.”
SPAR Shanxi, one of the five regional SPAR groups in China, joined the brand in 2008 and currently operates over 70 stores in Shanxi and 10 stores in Inner Mongolia taking in a population catchment of 33.7 million. Chairman and majority shareholder, Mr Chu Dequn, oversees SPAR Shanxi, which also includes one of the country’s main Distribution Centre and provides employment for 12,435 people.