The story of SPAR in the early years stems from Adriaan Van Well, a Dutch wholesaler with vision. He was inspired by a simple yet powerful philosophy – independent wholesalers and retailers can achieve more by working together than working alone. It was the belief of Van Well that only through working in co-operation could the independent wholesale and retail sector survive and prosper in the face of increasing competition from multiple chains.
In the late 1950's four grocery stores in Salisbury (now Harare) joined together to form a buying group, one of which was the Divaris Brothers.
They called themselves "The Four Just Men" (after Edgar Wallace's latest thriller at the time), and had buying meetings every ten days. After reading in the Sunday Times about SPAR's launch in South Africa, they decided to apply to SPAR South Africa for a Rhodesian franchise.
Vic Taitz and George Divaris travelled to Johannesburg and met with the directors of SPAR South Africa who agreed to grant the franchise rights to two wholesalers being Pick and Save in Salisbury and Gordon Brothers in Bulawayo.
SPAR in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) prospered but sanctions with South Africa forced the two wholesalers to seek their own rights directly from SPAR International in 1966 making us the 13th country to join SPARs worldwide expansion.
The worldwide SPAR organisation comprises 12,331 stores in 35 countries on 4 continents and meets the needs of over 10 million consumers every day. The expansion of the organisation increased dramatically in the 1990’s and continues now in the new century.
Who We Are
At SPAR we continuously strive to achieve the highest standards of quality in all areas, from our warm and dedicated service to all our products with the objective of consistently meeting the individual needs of every customer in a caring and homely environment.
There are three important factors in the continued growth of this unique organisation of independent retailers. Firstly, we have great pride in the achievement of being the world’s largest food store chain. Secondly, in SPAR we understand that it is our people who make the difference. Finally, we are passionate about meeting the real needs of our consumers!
In Zimbabwe each SPAR has its own personality, offering consumers products that are unique to their local store. This is because SPAR operates under “voluntary trading” principals, encouraging our retailers to take full advantage of SPAR’s structure which is not a Franchise. SPAR is made up of 33 locally owned independent retailers across the country. The retailers apply to become members of a Guild of SPAR Grocers, who in turn elect a Guild committee annually (made up of retailers and wholesalers) to administer and protect the interests of the SPAR brand and its member retailers, together with formulating brand strategy.
Independent SPAR retailers are often referred to as “ local hero’s”, as they actively involve themselves and their families directly with the communities within which they operate, investing time, energy and money into local community projects including clinics, orphanages, sports events and schools, to name a few. SPAR retailers have a culture of strong family values and work ethic, a spirit of sharing with the fellow retailers and giving back to local communities.