Spar International MD Dr Gordon Campbell has said the symbol retailer's growth in developing markets is due to its efforts to tailor stores to the local market.

Speaking at the World Retail Congress in Berlin yesterday (26 September), Dr Campbell said being "hyper-local" is a vital consideration for a retailer when entering a new country.

"We operate in 34 different countries, have moved into Eastern Europe, Asia and Africa and how we have reacted is quite different in different areas," he said.

"When we have opened stores in Russia we had a strong focus on freshness and had pickle bars, which are common in Russia, as well as local delis. You have to focus on different products for different needs. We are trying to offer existing customers exciting, interesting and thoughtful shopping."

Dr Campbell also spoke of the need to scrutinise competitors for inspiration, much to the amusement of the executives at the World Retail Congress.

"To benchmark is to steal from competitors and to innovate is to steal shamelessly from competitors," he said, drawing applause.

On a more serious note, the Spar chief spoke of the difficulties facing consumers and had harsh words for politicians' handling of financial crises on both sides of the Atlantic.

"We have had a complete lack of leadership from American and Europe and when they do make decisions it's always too little, too late," he said.