Never too old for success

Business Reporter

YOU are never too old to start your own business. In fact, for Spar owner Dennis Tucker, the big 5-0 came with vast business and life experience that contributed towards his success today.

“Having extensive corporate experience at CEO level contributed significantly to my success as a non-corporate entrepreneur. At 50, one has accumulated the capital necessary to facilitate and support the acquisition of a business enterprise,” said Tucker, whose brother, Jim, owns the First Avenue Spar in Walmer.

Tucker’s decision to forgo corporate life was prompted by a desire to avoid having to accept a transfer from Port Elizabeth, where his teacher-wife, Jenny, and teenage children, Michael and Andrea, were settled in the city.

He and his business partner, Johan van der Westhuizen, investigated many business options and decided on Spar as they “liked the business model whereby entrepreneurial flair and space are accommodated while affording retail owners access to IT systems, marketing and a powerful brand”.

Today, co-owning three Spar retail outlets and their associated Tops liquor stores, Tucker and Van der Westhuizen employ more than 300 staff and have grown their retail business substantially.

Linton Grange Spar was their initial investment and was significantly revamped a few years ago. The partners acquired the Waterfront Spar with colleague Howard Robertson but disposed of their interest to him, preferring to concentrate their efforts in the Western suburbs.

They subsequently acquired the Spar at Hunter’s Retreat and, two years ago, the Superspar at Emerald Square in Mount Pleasant.

Construction is under way for the expansion of the Hunter’s Retreat Spar to Superspar level with the targeted completion the middle of next year.

Tucker was also awarded the Mr Spar title at the franchise’s Eastern Cape annual general meeting at The Boardwalk Convention Centre. The award is given to a successful retailer who best embodies the brand’s values.

Tucker said he was often called upon for advice by younger Spar retailers and has had the privilege of mentoring members of the Spar distribution centre management.

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