Spar UK's new managing director Jerry Marwood will be targeting larger groups to expand the group's membership, but he has vowed it will never reverse its policy that retailers supplied by Spar must carry its fascia. In his first interview since he took office in May, Marwood said: "There is an extremely positive mood in the business. Average customer spend is high and rising, average basket spend has grown 13% in 24 months and like-for-like sales were up 6.2% at the year-end." But he said he wanted to grow new business more quickly, and that would be one of his main targets. "Market share must be an opportunity for us to exploit. There are many multiple operators in The Grocer Top 50 who should be in Spar. And there are a lot of one-off retailers who, for some reason, imagine they should be in another group. It's down to us to demonstrate they should be with us." Marwood cited the 700-strong Multiple Retail Group, which offers members special deals in return for adhering to strict disciplines, as an example of what takes Spar "over and above" anything offered by its competitors. "MRG is a fantastic opportunity for business. It is still in its infancy, but as a structure it has enormous potential. It signifies us as a retailer not a wholesale player." Spar recently lost a tender to supply the 200-store Stars News group (The Grocer, June 1) because it insisted the group should adopt the Spar fascia, but Marwood said he would not compromise on this requirement. "When we recruit corporate businesses it has to be under the Spar banner. Every time we've talked to oil companies about their forecourt businesses it's always been the stumbling block but we've never backed down. We've got a proven brand." Marwood's priorities for action include crime and staff retention. "These are the two biggest challenges facing c-stores and things we should be able to help with." Marwood said he was pleased to be working again with Morton Middleditch, who has moved from being md to become chairman. He said: "Morton has fantastic experience of Spar and the sector." We've worked together before, we've got good chemistry." {{NEWS }}