Spar UK’s retail figures are heading toward £3bn with news that last year’s sales hit £2.84bn – an 8.5% uplift on 2015.

The year saw the group, which now claims to be the largest forecourt retailer in the UK, add 186 new stores to bring the number of outlets to 2,600 with a total retail area of nearly 4m sq ft – up 4.2%.

Debbie Robinson, Spar UK managing director, said the stores were examples of cutting-edge retail design, bringing modern store concepts that were easy to shop.

“Spar UK is in a fantastic financial position, proving ourselves to be a strong, stable long-term partner to both our retailers and international colleagues.

“We continue to take a more personal approach with our customers ensuring we have the right products and services. Our experience, knowledge of the market and the consumer sets us apart in times when others are finding the marketplace challenging.”

Its partnership approach and collaborative model provided retail businesses with huge opportunities to grow, Robinson said.

She put the success down to a wide range of “customer-focused initiatives” that she said convenience shoppers were looking for.

She referenced the Daily Deli foodservice offering, with more fresh food including butchery and deli counters, and the Spar brand range, which she said were just some of the reasons shoppers saw the group “as a go-to destination for great-tasting fresh food”.

She said Spar had boosted its digital advertising and targeted its promotions at young shoppers.

The wider Spar International now operates in 44 countries with 12,545 stores. Global retail sales for the year ending 31 December reached €33.1bn (£28.4bn) – up 4.5% on a constant currency basis.