Me and My Brand: Amrit Rebello of SPAR

Own labels are a powerful attraction and loyalty builder for customers who can see the quality and value on offer from a group that confidently puts its own name on its products. SPAR’s own brand is looking forward to a fantastic 2022, as Amrit Rebello, SPAR UK Brand Manager, explains

Amrit Rebello

Can you please give an overview of your brand          

SPAR Brand is a national brand that we love to enhance locally. Our brand is split 50/50 between core, national ranges and ranges all of which are sourced locally to enable maximum customer recognition and appeal as well as making us unique to our competitors.

The SPAR own label range provides a range of products that reflect modern-day customer needs. The range creates a unique point of difference and helps build customer loyalty.

Our consumer research proves that there are no barriers to own label as long as the products are of great quality, taste good and provide value for money.

Our own label range has a great presence in stores. With over 900 SPAR own label products for retailers to choose from, we offer a SPAR Brand range of alcohol, grocery, fresh foods, frozen and confectionery and our food-to-go range.

We work very hard to ensure a high number of our own label products receive industry accredited awards for quality, taste and value.

The benefits of having a comprehensive SPAR own label range that caters for the key shopping missions are extensive, SPAR own label offers value for money, drives footfall and basket size, increases customer spend, improves customer loyalty and increases retailer sales and profitability.

We are focussed on three key customer-led pillars – Quality, Value and Ease. We are committed to delivering a consistent quality that our customers can trust, offering value for money to drive trial and awareness, and ensuring we are able to hit all of our retailer and shopper needs.

Focusing on these goals enhances our quality food credentials which we communicate to both consumers and our independent retailers.

A selection of SPAR own label wine range which is also suitable for vegans

How is your brand currently performing?  

SPAR Brand is performing well in a challenging environment – but as ever, there is room for improvement. Our two per cent growth means we are now a £350m brand in retail sales, but our ambition is far greater. We are focussed on achieving increases in own brand penetration – we know how important a consistently credible own brand offering is for our shoppers and our retailer partners, and by listening and responding to evolving customer needs, and by maximising our current ranges and continuing to fill range gaps through NPD,  we will unlock significant growth for our brand.

How is the own label market currently performing?  

As retailers in all channels look for ways to build differentiation and loyalty, own brand sales continue to be buoyant.

We are also very environmentally focused and we have removed 300 tonnes of virgin plastic from 53 own label products, preventing over 100 tonnes of black plastic going in landfill. In addition we have added recycling information on over 700 SPAR own label products.

We have eliminated black plastic from our SPAR own label packaging range. We have made further commitments, too, that by 2025 we are looking to eliminate single use plastic altogether from our own label range.

We know that being environmentally friendly is a really important area of concern for our customers.  Our research showed that our customers wanted more information on recycling and as a result we have put the OPRL (on-pack recycling logo) on all our own label packaging.

Do you have any new product development?  

We have an incredibly exciting pipeline of development, covering a number of categories. In November, we relaunched our entire paperware range with a fantastic new “Home+” sub-branded design, and highly competitive and improved retails, as well as introducing a brand new entry price point product. We have also very recently introduced five new frozen products in recognition of the growth in the frozen category over the last 18 months. These NPD lines cover key customer needs in evening meals (such as curly fries and wedges), and healthier eating within frozen fruits.

We have made our full range of own label wines suitable for vegans. This ensures our own label range of 70 products is more inclusive and accessible for the growing number of shoppers exploring vegan food and drink.

We have recently brought a brand new range of pet food, in recognition of the increase in pet ownership and the growth within the category. This will include cans, pouches and trays for cat and dog foods.

We will also have some very exciting news in crisps and nuts, pizzas and sauces coming soon!

How are you supporting your brand and NPD?  

 It is incredibly important for us to support new products on launch to help them land in stores and be visible for shoppers. As well as in-store communications via POS, posters and radio, we also look to have all lines supported with promotional activity – our belief is that if customers buy the products once, they are sure to keep coming back, so giving stores support for that first purchase is key.

How important are independent retailers to your brand? 

Our independent retailers are very important to the growth of our brand and their support for our own label products is fantastic. Almost half of all SPAR Brand sales come from our independent retail partners – and, for example, with our relaunched paperware range, independent stores are growing at 19 per cent following the launch.

What trends are occurring in the sector?

We are seeing strong growth within the premium tier of own brand, which our work within pizza, crisps and wines & spirits ranges looks to capitalise on. There is also an increased focus and growth in products and deals that look to satisfy customer mission needs as well as product needs, perhaps illustrated best in the continued growth of evening meals activity.

Describe your brand in three words … 

Trusted, authentic and collaborative.