Membership of Spar's buying consortium Multiple Retail Group has swelled to almost 700 members one year after its inception, said Spar's trading director Keith Webb. Originally comprising the company owned stores to "replicate the multiple set-up", the MRG has now attracted more than 300 independents. In return for adhering to strict disciplines on range and merchandising, members benefit from significantly better trading terms from suppliers, with savings recouped from Spar on a quarterly basis. "We have secured MRG deals with suppliers across all the major product categories," said Webb. "They are able to see that 25% of our estate is turning over 40% of the sales volume. And that represents over one million sq ft of retail space. "We are simply demonstrating to suppliers that what the multiples can do in terms of discipline, we can do too." Spar makes no apologies for the strict entry criteria to the group, said Webb: "This is not a numbers game. So many operations like MRG have collapsed because they lacked credibility with suppliers." Retailers consistently failing to order the required goods from RDCs specified in the MRG contract will be kicked out, said Webb: "So far we've had a few yellow cards, but no reds." Membership is expected to increase still further as 100% of the savings negotiated by the group buying consortium for MRG are passed back to members, he added. {{NEWS }}