SPAR Hellas, a member of SPAR International, on Monday announced its entry in the Greek market with the aim to create and manage the largest cooperative network of retail stores from independent retailers in the country.

SPAR Hellas plans to develop more than 350 SPAR stores throughout the country, with 1,400 private label products largely made by Greek manufacturers, offering its know-how, guidance and support to all levels of organising, training and business strategy.

The first 10 stores in Greece are expected to begin operations by July, reaching 80 stores this year, while SPAR Hellas plans to also operate new privately-owned stores.

The development of the network will come through a strategic partnership with Asteras Group, which will gradually place the largest part of its network of 200 stores under the SPAR brand name in the next three years. In this framework, Asteras Group joined forces with MESIS Group, obtaining management control in more than 500 stores around Greece with total annual sales of 700 million euros.

George Papantonis, chairman of Asteras Group said the cooperation with SPAR offered a totally new outlook for the group, adding: "Our goal is to have management control on total sales of 1.2 billion euros and a market share of more than 12 pct in the Greek market by 2021".

Fivos Karakitsos, CEO in SPAR Hellas said that SPAR is coming to Greece to develop the most modern cooperative network of independent retail stores in the country.

SPAR International operates a network of 12,545 stores in 44 countries with total sales of 33.1 billion euros (2016 figures).