A new SPAR retail format addressing the needs of urban residents and university students has been developed based on international best practices. Following an investment of £250,000 by SPAR NI license holder Henderson Group, the store at Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) was opened in October 2022. Food concepts and design features never seen before in this market were integrated into the new urban/university city concept.
SPAR Northern Ireland’s retail team worked closely with teams from SPAR UK and SPAR International to develop the concept. The four teams, including the project team of QUB, integrated a host of new products and services into the store. The team took into account the diversity of solutions required to meet the needs of the over 27,000 students and staff of the university.
“One Elmwood, the new Queen’s Student Centre and Students’ Union, has been seven years in the making. This stunning £40m world-class complex will be home to thousands of students from around the world. This allowed us an opportunity to develop something truly unique”, says Paddy Doody, Sales and Marketing Director at Henderson Group.
Focused on student needs for on-the-go instant consumption and same-day meal solutions, the Union Shop brings several firsts for the SPAR Brand in Northern Ireland. Mr Doody continued; “The store is proud to introduce the first ever non-dairy self-serve coffee concept under Barista Bar, with its unique plant-based only machine, which we believe is a first for Northern Ireland. Barista Bar Planted will sit alongside two of our standard machines offering a full range of delicious hot drinks.”
The new Delish brand has been exclusively adapted for the Union Shop, with around 28m2 dedicated to tasty, freshly prepared hot breakfast and lunch items, either made fresh to order or packaged to grab and go. Delish hot food-to-go will be complemented by a full range of sandwiches, wraps and salads, including the popular Choice range which incorporates the brand’s vegan offering.
An exciting element is the Delish Burrito Bar, delivering a traditional Mexican street food experience of fresh, high-quality Burritos and Bowls at a great value. Rounding out the food-to-go concept in the heart of Belfast City is fresh orange juice by iSqueeze and a full SPAR Bakery offering.
SPAR Store Manager, Glenn Patterson explains; “Belfast’s culture is truly unique. SPAR in Northern Ireland is over 60 years old, so we have a lot of history to bring to our store, which will not only welcome international students but help locals feel at home.
“We have created a store that students will want to visit and experience. The design is urban but bursting with Belfast heritage, such as the shipping container which houses our Burrito Bar. We want our students and staff to feel revived and excited when they visit us, aligning with the ethos of One Elmwood as a whole.”
In addition to long-serving members of the team, eight new jobs created led to students taking on new roles and learning vital skills in retailing. Served and self-service solutions are available, with ready-to-consume options alongside top-up groceries. With this customer base requiring rapid checkout, five self-service checkouts with card payment only were installed.
Source: SPAR UK
The UK became a SPAR member in 1956 when SPAR International granted the SPAR licence to a group of independent wholesalers. As a result, there are now five regional partners in the UK. A central office in London provides national marketing and buying services for the group.
SPAR has led the highly competitive convenience market in the UK for many years. Always innovative, the five regional partners continue to grow the brand. SPAR UK comprises independently owned licensed retailers and company-owned stores. These include forecourts, airports, train stations, city centres, and local neighbourhood stores.