Spar UK is a global supermarket chain which has its headquarters in the Netherlands. The UK head office is based in Middlesex and its British stores employ over 50,000. The company has shops in 33 countries including Australia, Japan and Africa. Collectively, Spar has over 13,000 stores around the world which is increasing due to its franchise programme. In the UK, Spar works with the Ministry of Defence as an operator of NAAFI (navel, army and air force institute) by providing stores which are located at military bases.

Spar stores may be owned independently as part of a franchise or be part of a chain depending on country and parent company ownership. It is the UK convenience market leader with 2,600 stores and around 10,000 screens.

Spar UK retail IT controller Roy Ford describes his role as “I control the development of 'Retail Related Technology' including EPoS, Credit & Debit card solutions and hardware procurement”.

IT leader: Roy Ford, Retail ICT Controller.

In role since: 23 years with SPAR UK and 10 years as ICT Controller.

Reporting line: Corporate Director.

How often does the CIO meet with the CEO: Monthly or as required.

Board level seat: Member of the SPAR UK Leadership Team.

IT staff currently employed: 50.

Primary technology platforms at the organisation: We have an in-house product SPARPoS developed in partnership with our software supplier.

Primary technology suppliers: Software Partners Business Computer Projects, Software platform Progress & Windows, Hardware EPSON & Toshiba.

Significant strategic technology deals struck in the last 12 months: We moved from an in-house credit and debit card solution to an outsourced solution from Commidea/VeriFone, the primary reason for this was PCI DSS and card data security.

Percentage of your applications/infrastructure run from the cloud: None in retail technology at present, currently looking at this with the development of our thin-client EPoS solution due for completion at the end of this financial year.

Major technology or transformation project recently completed and how did it transform operations, customer experience or the organisation: The move to an outsourced credit and debit card solution is already seeing major benefits from less polling bureau failures and less retailer chargebacks.

Did the above project reach its cost, timing and transformation objective: 20% overspend but within the project contingency cost originally forecast.

Business transformation programme – beyond technology – that the CIO owns or is a major contributor to: I would say as the key R&D person within SPAR UK I do have the ability to steer the organisations advances in technology. Not sure technology is the driver for business in the future but will be stifled if it’s too complicated or expensive for our retailers so statements like beyond technology worry me a bit.

Technologies being considered to enable transformation: Thin client EPoS & the Cloud.

Transformational inspiration sources: Being part of an international organisation I have access to lots of knowledge and experience from other SPAR countries and I visit the major shows such as NRF in New York & EuroCIS.