Spar partners with Balfin Group to open first stores in Albania

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Spar, the world’s largest food retail voluntary chain, has officially announced a new partnership with Balfin Group, to open its first stores in Albania. The two largest food stores in the country opened on the same day –  7,200sq m in Tirana East Gate (TEG) and 3,800sq m in QTU shopping centre.

Balfin Group is the largest private company operating in Albania. The company entered into food retail in 2005 with the development of the Euromax chain of stores and has been operating 15 large food retail stores (2 Hypermarkets and 13 Supermarkets) under the Carrefour brand.

Spar Albania as part of Balfin Group will convert its current 15 stores with the development of the two Interspar Hypermarkets to be followed by the conversion of the supermarkets. By the end of 2017, Balfin Group plans to open over 100 supermarkets and 10 hypermarkets, creating the largest retail network in Albania and investing over €50 million in the project.

Entry into Albania brings to 44 the number of countries where Spar currently operates and marks SPAR’s second announcement of international expansion in 2016. Spar International reported global retail sales in 2015 of €33 billion from over 12,100 stores across four continents.

Spar International managing director, Tobias Wasmuht, said: “We are delighted to be partnering with Balfin, a leading privately owned Albanian business Group, to develop Spar Supermarkets and Interspar Hypermarkets in Albania. Working in true co-operation with the Balfin Group, we are able to unite the best of international with the best of local, creating an excellent proposition of value, service, quality and choice for our customers in Albania.”

Speaking about the partnership Julian Mane, the vice president of retail at Balfin Group, said: “We are delighted to be partnering with Spar. Our multi-million euro investment and ambitious plans for expansion are based firmly on our confidence in the Soar offering. The expected growth of the Albanian market and our strong distribution and logistics capabilities strengthen the partnership further. We look forward to bringing these modern new store formats, excellent products and great customer service to our customers in Albania.”

The launch of the Spar brand has been complemented with a television campaign, city wide outdoor advertising as well as the launch of the two Hypermarkets and the conversion of some of the existing supermarkets to the Spar brand to open this year.