Hamilton’s SPAR Newtownstewart opened in 1979 and is this year celebrating 45 successful years of serving the local community.

The store is one of three SPAR stores throughout Co. Tyrone owned and operated by pillars of the community, Charlie and Ruth Hamilton. After a successful 16 years operating SPAR Newtownstewart, Charlie and Ruth opened SPAR Castlederg, which was extended in 2021 to become the largest SPAR store in the UK, and in 1998, the family opened the doors to their Tamlaght Road SPAR, which was knocked down and rebuilt in 2019.

Charlie, Ruth and their family are well known and respected in the community, with their children continuing their legacy. Charlie and Ruth’s son David has branched out with two of his own SPAR stores and a ViVO store in Fermanagh, while their daughter Louise owns Joe’s Chippy in Sion Mills and their daughter Alison joined the family business in 2018 and plays a leading role in SPAR Newtownstewart. The couple also have six grandchildren and hope one day the business will grow to a third generation.

When the store opened in 1979 with just four employees, it was the first SPAR store in Northern Ireland to introduce such innovations as a hot food counter, automatic doors and an open fronted chilled drinks fridge – now all standard fixtures in today’s modern SPAR outlets. Charlie and Ruth have invested in their business extensively over the years to expand their offering for their shoppers, and are preparing to bring even more to the store with plans to rebuild the Newtownstewart store in the next few years.

Charlie commented, “The rebuild will be a substantial investment for us and will provide a modern supermarket for our community which has supported us, our family and our local suppliers for the past 45 years. We’re looking forward to extending our offering and bringing even more top quality products and services to our shoppers.”

Charlie and Ruth have always had the community at the heart of their businesses, often supporting local community groups, sports teams, local schools and fundraising for local charities, including annual tea parties for Marie Curie, which have raised a total of £2,500 over the past 5 years.

To mark the anniversary, the family wanted to give back to the community by donating sunflower seeds, compost and pots to a number of local P1 and P2 classes to encourage the children to spend some time outdoors, being active in the garden and learning about pollination. Schools which received donations included Ardstraw Jubilee Primary School, Newtownstewart Model Primary School, St. Patricks Primary School Newtownstewart, St. Patricks Primary School Gortin and Gortin Primary School.

Charlie added, “The community is at the heart of everything we do and we wanted to mark our anniversary by doing something for the benefit of our local schools. I want to thank Ruth, our family and all our store staff at SPAR Newtownstewart for their hard work and dedication to the store. We also want to thank our shoppers, we have loved seeing friendly faces every day for the past 45 years and will continue to serve the community in the best way we can for years to come.”

Paddy Doody, Sales and Marketing Director, Henderson Group, said, “We have a fantastic relationship with Charlie and Ruth, who are one of our longest serving retailers under the SPAR brand. They have been some of the first to bring tech innovations that are standard practice now to the industry, and have continued to invest and grow over the years, with their shoppers at the heart of everything they do.

“We want to congratulate the Hamiltons’ on a fantastic 45 years of SPAR Newtownstewart and wish them every success for the future of a wonderful store.”