Market Basket hosts Spars grocers from around the world

Demoulas executive Jay Rainville is shown speaking to a group of foreign supermarket owners, administrators and managers during their Tuesday visit to the flagship Market Basket store in Chelsea. Photo left is Dr. Gordon Campbell, Managing Director of Spars – a 12,000 store, $40 billion a year supermarket giant who was in Chelsea for the MarketBasket visit

Seventy grocers from around the world visited the Market Basket Tuesday afternoon for a first hand look at one of the largest, most inventive and successful supermarkets of its kind in the nation.

Those grocers the Record spoke with said the Market Basket was amazing, not only for its size but for the many different things going on at the same time and the efficiency as well as the finesse with which consumers were being handled.

Tobias Wasmuht, a Spars vice-president from Munich, Germany said he found the Market Basket amazing.

“There are stores this size in China but the average shopper purchase at a Chinese equivalent is $5 – $6,” he said.

The average purchase at Market Basket is in the range of $60 – $70.

“It is wonderful and unique to see such a mixed clientele seemingly so comfortable in so large a store,” he added.

The Market Basket hosted the grocers, who came to the Chelsea store as part of an exchange operated by Spar International – perhaps the largest grocery store cooperative in the world, according to Dr. Gordon Campbell, its managing director, who was in attendance during the store tour.

Dr. Gordon Campbell, Spars Managing Director

“We are 12,000 stores, $40 billion in sales, located in 35 countries,” Dr. Campbell said.

The tour gave a chance for some of Europe’s, China’s, Australia’s and South Africa’s grocery executives, owners and administrators to see up close in real time the quintessential American supermarket on an average business day.

By all accounts from many of the visitors interviewed, they were not disappointed.

“It is a great pleasure for us to showcase a Market Basket to so many members of the worldwide grocery community,” said Jay Rainville, the director of store operations and advertising for the Market Basket.

He guided the group from aisle to aisle throughout the sprawling store.

Each of the vendors, store owners and administrators were there to examine the potential in cross merchandising, and many took a look at fresh product potential and how MarketBasket deals with procurement, display and sale of products.

For instance, Dr. Campbell said he was amazed at the bread aisle.

“What is truly unbelievable about this store’s bread aisle is that so many different type people are making selections at every portion of the long aisle. Just keeping the aisle stocked with all its different merchandise is a complex task,” he said.

Spars has been expanding rapidly in China and in Russia.

“This is quite an operation and it is obvious at first glance that these people know what they’re doing said Yoep Man, Spar’s chief executive in China.

Store owner Jesus Quintana from Spain runs 20 stores.

“But they are miniscule compared with this,” he said.

The group was treated to lunch by MarketBasket.

They sat outside with Rainville, eating and talking supermarket politics and procedures.

It was just another day at the MarketBasket, perhaps this city’ most sizable ongoing success and a place people come from all over the world to improve their own marketing skills.

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