Henderson Group/SPAR Investing in your Community Award 2022
Community Resilience

Investing in your Community Award 2022

SPAR has been delivering convenience retailing in Northern Ireland for 60 years.


There are currently over 300 SPAR stores located at the heart of communities across Northern Ireland, with the brand sitting as part of the Henderson Group.

Prior to Covid-19, SPAR’s brand promise was “there for you”. In March 2020, when the pandemic hit, it caused mass anxiety, including fear of how to get food safely. SPAR stepped up with a focus on ensuring food was on shelves, panic buying was well managed, stores were safe, shoppers could receive food delivered to their door, and communities were supported. SPAR’s community strategy was redeveloped at speed based on a collaborative approach with communities, employees and other stakeholders, investing time, energy and financial resources.

What SPAR did

As SPAR shops are integral to the community, this meant engagement came directly from communities themselves as people were able to express first-hand how difficult things were. There was an increase of requests coming through SPAR’s community support portal, ‘Thrive’, and information from this was fed back to the management team.

SPAR identified several outstanding issues, including panic buying, ensuring the vulnerable were looked after, and community support for and by shoppers.

Marketing skills were employed to come up with innovative ways to fundraise for charities, given events were against the government guidelines, and SPAR worked with partners on a variety of initiatives, including with Business in the Community on the Big Community Sew and the Digital Donations Device Drive.

Initiatives were launched in communities under three key areas. These were: ‘There for Health and Wellbeing’ which was a virtual and an ‘in real life’ Sports Day in partnership with Healthy Kidz; ‘There for Charities/Community Groups’, which included a £20,000 grant to provide support for charities and a series of initiatives marking sixty years of SPAR in NI; and ‘There for the Vulnerable’, which focused on home deliveries and food bank support.

SPAR put a renewed focus on employee engagement through communication, community hubs, and an employee app called ‘Keep in Touch’, which was used to get information to employees as soon as possible.

Customer engagement was prioritised through marketing communication via leaflets, radio, public voting for community grants, and social media, and suppliers were engaged to raise funds for partner charities through donations and sponsorship.

Impacts and Outcomes

  • Supplied 15,000 food boxes for vulnerable in collaboration with Department for Communities.
  • EUROSPAR, SPAR and VIVO and their shoppers raised £783k versus a target of £230k
  • Installed more public defibrillators to bring the total to 254. 2020/2021 was the highest year of usage and 15 lives have been saved
  • Supported 800 community groups and 200 foodbanks throughout NI
  • 62,000 face coverings, hand stitched by volunteers, distributed to the vulnerable
  • Community Cashback Grant(£20,000) helped 16 charities in NI provide critical services
  • Improved brand perception – 83% of people agreed SPAR supported communities
  • EUROSPAR, SPAR and VIVO and their shoppers raised £783k versus a target of £230k

What the Judges said…

“Henderson Group/SPAR was incredibly impressive in its presentation, both in content and delivery. The way it has implemented firm-wide strategies and the reach and impact it has had across Northern Ireland is phenomenal, making it well deserving of this award. The defibrillator initiative stands out in particular. It has been quite literally life saving for many people and would be award worthy in and of itself.”

Find out more about the Awards and enter at www.bitcni.org.uk/awards.