Dutch retailer Spar International (Spar) has announced its entry into the Greek market, with the ambition of creating and operating the largest chain of independent food retailers in the country.

As Spar Hellas, Spar hopes to establish ‘itself in Greece in order to develop the most modern cooperative network of independent retail stores in the country’.

Spar Hellas CEO Fivos Karakitsos said: “The combination of Greek retailers’ excellent local knowledge and SPAR international’s best practice and global brand, will result in innovative store layouts for the customer, excellent fresh products, a wide range of own brand products and value for money.”

In order to develop Spar’s retail presence, Spar Hellas has signed a strategic cooperation with Asteras association.

Over the next three years, Asteras will convert most of its existing 200 stores to the Spar brand.

Asteras has also entered a joint cooperation agreement with the Mesis association, which has more than 500 stores across Greece with reported €700m in sales.

Through the cooperation between Asteras and Mesis, Spar Hellas plans to develop more than 350 stores across the nation in the next four years.

“SPAR is establishing itself in Greece in order to develop the most modern cooperative network of independent retail stores in the country.”

The new stores would offer up to 1,400 Spar own brand products, with many sourced from Greek producers and suppliers.

The first ten Spar stores are expected to launch in Greece by July, and the retailer aims to operate a total of 80 stores by the end of this year.

Spar Hellas will be provided with comprehensive support from Spar International, including store development, own brand ranges, high-end supply chain distribution, and the design and implementation of locally focused marketing campaigns.

Spar also promises continuous staff training and skills development programmes for staff which will be carried out in order to provide high-levels of customer service in the country.

Karakitsos added: “SPAR retailers will build on their traditional roots, creating a strong family focused business that is unique in the Greek market.

“SPAR Hellas in turn, consists of a well-regarded team from the areas of sales, marketing, operations and supply chain, which will guarantee the highest level of support for the retail network.”

By providing access to international best practice and the local expertise of the team, Spar Hellas will ensure a full set of services and benefits for all licensed retailers.

Spar Hellas development consultant Georgios Vogiatzakis said: “Supplying local, Greek products in Spar’s network is a key part of our business strategy. We recognise our responsibility to encourage Greek production and we will continuously strengthen both local production and the economy.

“The own brand products will gradually be produced in our country and we will offer quality producers the opportunity to access the Spar network. We will open Spar stores throughout Greece and will harness the power and expertise of the Spar Brand to grow the business.”