Spar plans to create 1,000 jobs as it opens 50 stores
A THOUSAND full and part-time jobs will be created at 50 new Spar outlets around the country over the next two years, marking another boost for the recovering economy.
It comes as a $70m (€56m) business investment fund being launched today by Taoiseach Enda Kenny has promised to create 450 jobs in coming years.
SmartInvest - a private investment fund backed by a number of partners, including State agency Enterprise Ireland - intends to invest in and grow 30 fledgling Irish tech firms in order to fuel the jobs growth.
And the firm behind the Spar franchise in Ireland, BWG, said its own expansion was part of a €100m investment by the group between now and 2019.
The money is being injected into its Spar network as well as Mace and XL, which it also controls here. It has been earmarked for new store openings and refurbishment works.
More than 200 delegates at the Spar national convention this morning in Killarney are being told of the plans.
News of the investment comes less than three months after Spar South Africa paid €55m for an 80pc stake in BWG, which was wholly owned by Leo Crawford, John Clohisey and John O'Donnell. The three men now own 20pc of the business.
Mr Crawford continues to head BWG, which directly employs 900 people. The franchised stores under its umbrella already employ more than 20,000 people.
There are more than 420 Spar stores in the BWG network in Ireland, and between them they have about a 35pc share of Ireland's convenience store market. The outlets generate combined annual turnover of about €1.2bn.
"Following six years of recession we believe the economy is finally turning the corner and this uplift is starting to positively impact the retail sector," said Mr Crawford.
He said that Spar had spent the past 12 months adding new high-quality stores to its network and that the strategy was "paying dividends".
"Our planned store growth over the next two years and the new jobs that will be created will contribute to the economic recovery, especially in the local urban and rural communities in which our Spar stores are located," he added.
Meanwhile, the SmartInvest fund is aiming to help Irish companies into expand to the United States, and also to assist US firms in establishing bases in Ireland.
The new jobs will be spread across the island, according to SmartInvest.
"The Irish Government is very supportive of initiatives such as this which are intended to create jobs in Ireland and support Irish start-up and scaling companies, and encourage investment in Ireland," said Mr Kenny.
The chief executive of SmartInvest, Gerry Moan, said the fund recognised excellence in Ireland "both as a place to do business and its entrepreneurial spirit".
He said there was an appetite among investors to capitalise on opportunities in Ireland and the US as gateways to large markets.