Tuesday, 16 September 2014

From the suburbs of Birmingham to affluent Switzerland - Spar lives on

As an English girl who grew up with a Spar as her corner shop I find it very funny that Spars are rife here in Switzerland. How could a store that seemed to English and so cheap, be so prevalent in highly efficient, affluent Switzerland 35 years later? So I delved into the history of Spar to find out the truth.

And I was amazed to find out that Spar was founded in the Netherlands in 1932 by retailer Adriaan van Well. It is an international retail chain and franchise with approximately 12,500 stores in 35 countries worldwide. It's headquarters are in Amsterdam.

The name was originally DE SPAR, an acronym of the Dutch phrase Door Eendrachtig Samenwerken Profiteren Allen Regelmatig (an English translation would be - through united co-operation everyone regularly profits). De Spar is Dutch for 'The spruce', hence Spar's slightly Christmassy logo. As the organisation expanded across Europe, the name was abbreviated by dropping 'DE'.

The word Spar means 'to save (money)' in some Germanic and Scandinavian languages. So somehow, Spar has managed to keep its prices down and serves local communities effectively, as it did in my Birmingham backwater environment in the 1970s. Funny how some things never change, where-ever you go.

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