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The concept of voluntary trading, uniting the efforts of By the beginning of the 1960s, grocery chains were also
both independent wholesaler and retailer, was born in the emerging in South Africa. To counter this threat, a group
USA in the late 1920s and early 1930s. It was the of eight wholesalers got together and introduced SPAR,
answer to the threat of the grocery chains that were fast which was launched in 1963 to service 500 small
taking the lion’s share of the market. retailers.

As chain stores emerged in Europe, Adriaan van Well, a During the 42 years that followed, the wholesalers were
wholesaler in the Netherlands, introduced the same involved in a number of mergers and take-overs. Today,
concept in 1932. He called his organisation DESPAR, The SPAR Group Limited owns all the aforementioned
being the initial letters of a slogan that he created to wholesalers and operates six modern distribution centres
describe the philosophy. Later the name was abbreviated that service 799 SPAR stores across South Africa and
by dropping the letters DE, but the underlying meaning the neighbouring countries.
remains the philosophy of the organisation, which
The SPAR organisation is made up of two types of
now covers 36 countries on five
members: SPAR retailers, who are independent
store owners, and SPAR distribution centres,
which provide leadership and services to the SPAR
retail members in their respective regions. Both
member types belong to The SPAR Guild of
Southern Africa, a non-profitmaking company set
up to co-ordinate and develop SPAR in Southern
Africa. The members pay subscriptions to the
Guild, which uses these monies to advertise and
promote SPAR.

To facilitate the operation, the country is divided

into six geographic areas, each with its own
regional guild of retail and DC members, with the
centre of control being the local distribution centre.
It’s a formula that works effectively to unite the
organisation in its ongoing drive to remain at the
forefront of food retailing in Southern Africa.

Translated into English:
“All will benefit from united co-operation”