SPAR Group knows how to fight for shelf space. Founded in 1967, the company provides an array of marketing and merchandising services to manufacturers and retailers. Clients include drugstore chains, grocery stores, and convenience stores. SPAR Group offers services such as in-store product demonstration and sampling, shelf maintenance, mystery shopping, database marketing, teleservices, and market research. The company has an international presence through operations and joint ventures located in about 10 countries, including Australia, Canada, India, Japan, New Zealand, Romania, South Africa, and China.
After a few years of unprofitability, SPAR enjoyed a steady increase in net income from 2007 to 2010. The company's strategy is to seek opportunities that will accelerate its growth. In early 2010 the company expanded with the acquisition of the domestic merchandising service business and customer contracts of Brenner Associates Inc., which did business as National Marketing Services (NMS). The acquisition included NMS subsidiaries National Assembly Services (in-home furniture assembly services) and NMS Retail Services (merchandising services in Canada).
Shortly after, SPAR obtained Wings & Ink, a marketing and merchandising firm based in Canada. SPAR immediately integrated the acquisition with its SPAR Canada subsidiary. The deal added new retail and manufacturing clients to its customer base.
The company has also been focusing on its overseas operations, targeting regions in Asia, Europe, and South America as areas for potential growth. In 2010, it established a new joint venture with Shanghai Wedone Marketing Consulting Co. in China. The new company provides merchandising and marketing services, and SPAR hopes it will serve as a springboard for further growth in one of the fastest growing economies in the world.
Chairman Robert Brown owns more than 38% of SPAR; vice chairman William Bartels owns 27%. – less