Spar has reported an 8.5% increase in UK sales to £2.84bn in 2016, as new retailer members joined the c-store group.

The retail chain, which added 186 new stores in the year to December 31, also ploughed cash into a fresh marketing approach and bolstered its fresh food offer.

Spar UK’s store footprint now stands at 2,620 and it is the largest forecourt retailer in the UK.

Spar UK managing director Debbie Robinson said the business is in “a fantastic financial position”, proving itself to be a “strong, stable long-term partner to both our retailers and international colleagues”.

“Our experience, [and] knowledge of the market and the consumer sets us apart in times when others are finding the marketplace challenging.

“Our partnership approach and collaborative model provides retail businesses with huge opportunities to grow,” she said. 

Spar has focused on improving its fresh food offer, adding more butchery and deli counters.

“We have also boosted our digital advertising and targeted our promotions at younger shoppers,” Robinson added, concluding that the family-owned business is in an “ideal position for the future”.

The results see Spar UK land in third position in Spar’s International’s global retail sales, which grew 4.5% to €33.1bn (£28.4bn) during the period.