Spar UK has appointed Debbie Robinson, former director of food marketing at the Co-operative Group, as managing director. Robinson will take up her new role at the end of the summer and takes over from Jerry Marwood, who is leaving the company to pursue other interests.
In her previous role Robinson developed award-winning formats for petrol forecourts, convenience stores and supermarkets; delivered an extensive refit programme and developed a 3,000 plus own branded product range.
Robinson also developed the Co-operative’s ‘good with food’ campaign including TV, radio and press communications and is known for her pioneering approach to responsible retailing across a broad range of issues including animal welfare, Fairtrade, the environment, diet and health.
Peter Blakemore, Spar chairman, said: “We are delighted that Debbie is joining the Spar organisation. She brings with her a wealth of retail experience and her passion and knowledge will be invaluable to our business.”
Robinson said: “I am delighted to be taking on this role; Spar is a fantastic business with a regional structure that is ideally suited to today’s customer needs. My priority will be to continue to drive the Spar brand forward increasing its relevance with customers and developing the offer to drive sales and profit.”
Marwood said: “This is a fantastic hire for Spar. Debbie’s appointment is in line with the further development of Spar. Our retail estate is growing and our Spar retailers are positive about their prospects and still continue to invest locally. I am confident that Debbie will be an excellent contributor to the business.”
Spar said retail sales for the nine months to the end of January have been solid – up 1.6% year-on-year – but the economic climate is still challenging with more competition coming into the convenience sector. It expects this trend to continue into 2012.
Own-brand sales, in particular, have performed well with sales up 3.9% year-on-year and a particular strong performance in fresh foods, up 6.59%.
Spar will release full-year results in July.