A new partnership with SPAR for training future managers in retail and large-scale distribution

SPAR relies on SDA Bocconi to establish the first Custom Master program designed in the field of large-scale retail trade


SPAR International is a multinational company that has been in the large-scale retail sector since 1932. Today it is present in as many as 48 countries, with over 13,600 stores and more than 400,000 employees.

At the European level, where operations are mainly concentrated in the central and eastern parts of the continent (Austria, Italy, Croatia, Hungary, Slovenia, Romania), the company wanted to involve its top talent in an Executive Master’s program with the aim of:

  • making the international profile of its departments even more distinct, offering them the opportunity to share the same training experiences, network with colleagues from other countries, and develop a homogeneous managerial approach across different nationalities;
  • offering participants a wide-ranging view of the Retail sector, bringing them the most innovative managerial skills related to this field and helping to unleash the managerial potential of each of them;
  • acquiring new skills from the most recent scientific results obtained from research in the field of Retail, with a focus on managerial innovations related to Digital Transformation and sustainability.

After holding a tender that involved the most prestigious business schools, SPAR decided to rely on SDA Bocconi to establish the Executive Master in Retail Management, the first custom Master’s degree that the School has designed in the field of large-scale retail trade, as well as the first management training Master’s degree that the company has established for its employees. It lasts 15 months and includes a learning model that alternates moments of face-to-face training with didactic activities delivered through distance learning.

“This is a unique experience to Europe, featuring high-level training that for 15 months, the duration of any SDA Bocconi master’s program, brings together people from different professional and human backgrounds, taking them to multiple cities and countries to find insights and float new ideas. It’s an international experience that involves the use of different languages, offering a continuous comparison between different backgrounds and approaches, which enriches people, both from a human and professional point of view,” says Sandro Castaldo, Full Professor at the Department of Marketing at Università Bocconi.

Among the reasons that SPAR chose SDA Bocconi are the high level of academic preparation exhibited by the Faculty, the School’s international profile, and the presence of the Channel & Retail LAB, an observatory capable of constantly providing rigorous scientific-didactic updates and anticipating the main global trends in distribution and its channels.

“The Executive Master in Retail Management enables our managers from different areas of the company to bring themselves up to date about retail management at the cutting edge of science at one of the best Business Schools in the world, to acquire comprehensive knowledge and to integrate this knowledge directly into their daily work.

As the participants come from all countries of our group and from different areas, this is also an organizational development for SPAR. We learn together from the best, we learn from each other, and participants inevitably gain a deeper understanding of the challenges their colleagues face. I am convinced that this program will contribute significantly to the success of our company,” says Raimund Lainer Head of HR-Development of the SPAR group.

SDA Bocconi School of Management

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