The world’s largest voluntary food retail organisation SPAR International announces the brand’s entry into the Kosovan retail market, the 27th European market, in line with their expansion strategy. SPAR Kosovo is a new entity set up by a consortium of experienced partners in FMCG wholesale and retail, who will work in partnership with SPAR International to deliver a new global standard of FMCG retail experience to Kosovo consumers, promising premium products and value for money. The ongoing expansion of SPAR sees the brand now operating in 13,115 stores across four continents, employing around 350,000 people worldwide.
The SPAR Kosovo launch event held on 10th July 2019 in Swiss Mall, was attended by local media, suppliers and government officials where it was announced that 35 stores will be opened nationwide within the next five years. In the presence of local dignitaries and stakeholders, Her Excellency, Ambassador of The Netherlands to Kosovo, Gerrie Willems, gave a speech reflecting on the opportunities the market offers and expressing delight that the introduction of the SPAR Brand will lead to improved levels of customer service and quality offering available for shoppers, benefiting from the transfer of know-how from other SPAR partners.
Customers can look forward to SPAR Own Brand products, international brands, local specialities as well as fresh local Kosovo produce, creating additional opportunities for local suppliers to expand their market share. The local retail market will benefit from employment opportunities and a global standard in training and development. In the first two stores alone, 125 new jobs were created, with further opportunities existing in the central office and distribution network of SPAR Kosovo.
There are plans in place to open another 3 new stores before the end of 2019 and a further 7 stores during 2020. These will be in Prishtina as well as other Kosovan towns, bringing the brand and the quality offer to an increasing number of customers. In each location, the best product mix and store format will be tailored to suit local shopper needs. In the longer term, SPAR Kosovo expansion will see 35 SPAR stores with an estimated 50,000 square metres of retail sales area operational within five years.
Two SPAR Supermarkets are already open in Prishtina; one on Taslixhe street, in an upmarket neighbourhood in the north of the city, and another on C Street, in an apartment complex in a new housing development in the south of the city. Both stores have been enthusiastically welcomed by shoppers delighted with the high-quality shopping experience which includes a choice of fresh produce, instore full-service bakery, outside seating to enjoy the food-on-the-go and coffee offering, the unrivaled quality own brand products and the high levels of customer service. The third store in Swiss Mall opened on 11 July 2019.
Tobias Wasmuht, Managing Director, SPAR International said:
“We are delighted to partner with the local team in Kosovo. It is an exciting time for SPAR in this market, as we officially launch the brand with 6 store openings this year and plan to open 7 more next year. Since granting the license, our teams have worked closely together to ensure the transfer of our tried and tested SPAR retail formats and international best practice. The FMCG retail market has been one of the fastest growing sectors in Kosovo, is a country of just under 2 million people and SPAR’s 27th market in Europe. The market is growing and driven by a consumer demand for Western shopping standards and products. SPAR’s local but global approach will deliver international best practice while harnessing local retail expertise.”
Chairperson Jeta Rukiqi of SPAR Kosovo said at the launch event:
“We are very excited to see the SPAR brand enter this market. It is a reality today that Kosovo, one of the least developed countries in Europe, is joining the family by continuing to become home to the most powerful brands in the world. With the opening of SPAR in our country, Kosovo itself becomes part of Europe. Kosovo today is where it deserves to be.”
The retail environment in Kosovo is dominated by small retail stores and large modern supermarkets and hypermarkets are much in demand. SPAR International has been and will continue to support SPAR Kosovo with store design and layout, employee training and development, retail operational standards and facilitating SPAR Own Brand product sourcing from both international and regional partners.