Focus on strengths leads Spar towards Europe

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LIKE Woolworths, Spar is concentrating at what it is good at and that is distribution and wholesale, according to Chris Gilmour, an equity analyst at Absa Investment.

And like Woolworths, Spar is moving into mature markets that would deliver both short-term and long-term benefits and would increase the group’s international status.

The Spar Group has bought 80 percent of BWG Group, which is based in Ireland and south-west England. BWG operates 1 100 stores under different brands including Spar stores.

“Yes, the long-term goal for most local retailers is to invest in African markets, but unlike Massmart and Shoprite, it would be difficult for Spar to make a huge impact in a short space of time in these regions,” Gilmour said yesterday.

With Europe’s economy and consumer spending picking up, the timing could not have been more perfect, Spar’s chief executive, Graham O’Connor, said.

Spar is not the only South African company peeping at matured markets. As we speak, Woolworths is fixing its eyes on its newly acquired Australian business, David Jones, with hopes of raising its international status and turning its business into the biggest retailer in the southern hemisphere.

Meanwhile, Spar will focus on replicating its successful supply chain models with the hope of transforming some of BWG’s convenience stores into large store formats.

Spar would bring to bear its track record in migrating Spar stores in South Africa to larger store formats. “We will also contribute our demonstrated capabilities in logistics, warehousing and distribution,” said O’Connor.

This was an area “in which the BWG Group has relied heavily on third-party providers to supplement the capacity of its existing distribution centre”.

Spar believes that these efficiencies can be replicated in the BWG Group to unlock long-term value.

Productivity

While you might feel the need to stay connected with work at all times and are reading e-mails in bed just before you go to sleep, it is actually making you less effective and creates a negative cycle.

This is according to Lucy le Roux, the marketing manager for office design firm Paragon Interiors.

She says that according to Occupational Care SA (Ocsa) and Statistics SA, employee absenteeism costs the South African economy between R12 billion and R16bn a year.

Le Roux says Ocsa recently stated that there was a clear link between employee health, productivity and absenteeism.

On average, more than 15 percent of staff could be absent on any given day.

Two out of three employees who failed to show up for work were not physically ill. Sleep disorders were ranked “top cause of lost work time”.

Le Roux said the artificial or “blue” light emitted by TVs, mobile devices and computers could disrupt the body’s preparation for sleep by stimulating daytime hormones. These devices should be turned off at least an hour before bedtime.

“What is concerning in the Ocsa data is the high percentage of employees who appear to be falsifying illness.

“This points to a deeper problem of being unhappy at work.”

Le Roux said proper office design would address these issues.

“The first way to do this is through designing your office around providing spaces that facilitate the different types of work and social activities that take place. The next step is to educate staff on which behaviours are appropriate in which areas and then to create a culture around productivity.”

Le Roux said this was not micro management of people, in which no one was allowed to have a coffee break.

Edited by Banele Ginindza. With contributions from Nompumelelo Magwaza and Wiseman Khuzwayo.


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