SPAR store and lorry image

Convenience retailer Spar has said it is upping stock levels on the back of up to 200 per cent increases in demand for fresh, frozen and ambient categories.

The chain, which has 2,600 stores across the UK, said its five supplying wholesalers - Henderson Group, CJ Lang & Son, James Hall & Co, AF Blakemore & Son and Appleby Westward - have reported the huge volume increases and have teams of people working around the clock in order to meet store demand.

Louise Hoste, Spar UK managing director, said: “Our Spar stores are open, the shelves are stocked and we are meeting demand. We are urging the general public to shop local, little and often. We have a very good supply of food, drink or non-food essentials and as long as people do not panic buy, we can continue to meet the needs of local communities.”

Hoste applauded the role of independent retailers around the UK. “Never has it been more important to work together and support our network of Spar stores who are fully committed to fulfilling their important role within local communities. We, in turn, are focused on our obligation to meet their store needs.

“The future of independent retailing and wholesaling is in our hands and every one of our wholesalers is fully committed to providing every store it supplies with the best service.”

Spar said its wholesalers are all communicating on a daily basis and providing staff from depot to stores with support in terms of working hours, shift patterns, up-to-date information and advice, in-store customer communication and advice on social distancing.

All possible measures have been taken to ensure employees are available with the most recent COVID-19 advice and health and safety measures, Hoste said.

She added that where possible shift patterns and remote working is in place and there is a huge recruitment drive in progress throughout the business, in particular the need for lorry drivers. “We are moving roles around the entire business to meet demand. In some instances store staff are making local deliveries to the aged and vulnerable and our sales teams are making deliveries to stores. We are urging those who are qualified and in need of work to visit each of the SPAR wholesalers’ websites to see what roles are available.

“We have a very agile logistics system which is set up to deliver under any circumstance. We have 2,600 stores and employ 40,000 people and our duty is to serve them so they can successively serve their customers.”