It's wonderful to see so many international chains like Miniso, Mainland China etc. laying their roots in Sri Lanka. The newest addition is the SPAR International, which is of Dutch origins dating back to the early 1900s. Now they have expanded worldwide with 12,500 stores in 44 countries on four continents.
Ceylon Biscuits Limited (CBL Group) was granted a license by SPAR International to operate the SPAR brand in SL as a joint venture with the SPAR Group Ltd. South Africa.
I have been visiting their store since they newly opened and it just keeps getting better. They're adding new products all the time and never seem to be out of stock, which is fantastic.
The place is twice as big as your typical grocery store. In a nutshell, they stock fresh produce, a massive amount of meat and dairy options, dairy alternatives, condiments, dressings, beverages, cereals, frozen food, grains, pasta alongside cosmetics, household cleaning, health and personal care and of course, pet supplies.
Their fruits and veggies are probably the freshest produce you can find anywhere. They have a large variety from fresh mint, thyme, basil, dill to all the everyday stuff like radish, lettuce, kale etc. You can grow your own at home by purchasing one of the pots on the top shelf.
Their meat section is probably the best out there. They have selected cold cuts like Salami, Pancetta, Prosciutto, Beef, and Chicken etc. In addition to that, there is a fresh meat and seafood section too.
Moving onto the dairy section, there's yogurt, yogurt drinks, low-fat yogurt drinks, smoothies, fruit juices, puddings and cheese (blue cheese, cream cheese, cheddar… you name it) butter etc. They have their own products among these which are a bit more expensive than the rest but it's worth a try.
We can't forget the coffee. Here you can get a range of popular coffee brands like Lavazza, illycaffè, Aik Cheong and even local favourites, such as Harischandra and Island coffee. They have non-dairy creamers as well, which I haven't seen anywhere else.
As for pasta and grains, they have their branded products like Jasmine Rice but when it comes to pasta, they stock Barilla and Harpo's aside from the usual San Remo. As for pasta sauces, they have Leggo's pasta bakes, Pasta Roma and Barilla.
Yup! A massive Carino selection from Addicts and Fro-yos to dairy-free ice cream. Unlike in many of our local stores, they don't store an abundance of the same flavor, rather small amounts of so many different flavors, which is pretty amazing.
They have a separate bakery as well serving pre-cooked breakfasts, lunches, and snacks to freshly made meals. The bread is made on site and there's a lot to choose from – sliced bread, loaves, garlic bread, wholewheat, buns etc.
When it comes to the prices, when it comes to fresh produce and meat, it's definitely more than what you would expect at a local Cargills Food City or Keells. Almost twice as much, I would say. The best option is to purchase stuff that you wouldn't normally find at your local shop. Especially those cold cuts and their branded products like quinoa chips and cheesecake, tiramisu mixes.
Service and Ambiance
The service is nothing short of excellent. There are enough workers milling around in almost every aisle to help you out with all smiles and know their way around the store. The checkout process is very fast that I have not found myself waiting in line on any of my visits.
The place is very spacious. You first come across the bakery, then on your left the long aisles with spacious in-betweens and finally the produce section. Everything is well organized, properly labeled and categorized.
SPAR became one of my instant favorites and a place that I have now begun to frequently visit. It's a one-stop outlet to shop for everything you would otherwise have to order online or visit quite a few stores to gather. There are a lot more products available than what I have mentioned here but these are the main ones. Drop by at least once for the experience and decide for yourself if this will be a monthly visit.