Spar International has formed a partnership that will make the symbol group the first international retailer to open in the Republic of Belarus, in the former Soviet Union.

Spar has partnered with Almi Group’s subsidiary Unifood CJSC, which plans to operate 60 Spar stores in the country by 2020.

It has “aggressive” expansion plans, including store openings envisaged in Minsk, Grodno, Gomel Brest and their respective regions.

The first Spar Supermarket has opened in Minsk, Belarus’s capital city. The emphasis of the 3,983 sq ft outlet is on fresh food, including a wide range of fruits and vegetables, fresh meat and an in-store bakery.

Almi operates 43 stores under four formats under the Almi and Zakrama fascias.

Spar International is lending its expertise through retail design, staff training, supply chain review, retail location assessment, project management and brand-building marketing campaigns.

It will also support the extensive Almi Group range of own brands with global own-brand products from the exclusive Spar range.

Spar International will work with Almi to introduce a new range of food-to-go and ready-to-eat product in the Spar stores.

Tobias Wasmuht, managing director of Spar International, said: “We are confident this partnership will deliver value for our customers, our partners, the Almi Group, and Spar International.”

Dmitry Podlipsky, chief executive of Unifood CJSC, said: “This is a young partnership but to date, we have learnt a lot from Spar International’s expertise and the global best practice from the Spar family across 46 countries. We are excited to harness our knowledge and experience to launch the Spar brand into the Belarusian market.”