Global retail insights provider Planet Retail looks at the latest developments.
Clare Nutter, Associate Analyst.
Migros Ticaret targets affluent urban spend
Turkish multichannel player Migros Ticaret recently opened a new Macrocenter store in the wealthy Istanbul neighbourhood of Bebek, featuring a new concept called Fine Food. Macrocenter Fine Food stores are a much more compact form of regular Macrocenter stores – premium supermarkets targeting affluent shoppers in metropolitan centres such as Istanbul.
Convenience is at the forefront of the new format. As well as a wide selection of private label charcuterie and fresh meze, an in-store snack bar offers on-the-go options such as sandwiches, salads, wraps and soups. The plan is to expand Fine Food stores across selected wealthier neighbourhoods.
This appears to be a very smart step of combining a premium offer with convenience. The latter is on the rise, to be sure, but this is perhaps more of a response to the Carrefour Gurme banner launched by Carrefour Turkey in early 2014. Gurme did a good job in securing locations in affluent parts of Istanbul and has apparently performed well since launch. Migros Ticaret clearly believes so and is eager to join in premium convenience competition with its latest concept.
Axfood trials ecological convenience store
Axfood, Axel Johnson’s grocery arm, is to trial a new ecological convenience store concept called Hemköp Reko. The pilot store is to be in Torsplan, Stockholm, above the Hemköp store that Axfood recently announced is to trial e-commerce.
According to Hemköp’s CEO, Claes Salomonsson, the concept is to comprise 300 SKUs of fresh ready meals and ambient items, with 90 per cent being organic. An organic café serving Fairtrade coffee is also to be incorporated.
Organic and convenience are two growing trends in Sweden and grocery chains are fighting for the title as ecological champion. While Coop Sverige still has the highest share of organic sales in the country, Axfood and ICA Gruppen are playing catch-up. Hemköp Reko is a way for Hemköp to be increasingly associated with ecology in the media.
Competitor ICA Gruppen’s convenience store concept, ICA to Go, is still in the trial stage several years after its introduction. It will be difficult for Axfood to manage a full rollout of a convenience store concept targeting an even narrower audience given its organic elements.
Carrefour to launch new franchise banner
Carrefour Argentina has largely focused its expansion on the Carrefour Express convenience store banner over the past few years, due to shopper needs and problematic inflation. While the majority of grocers in Argentina posted slow expansion plans, Spanish retailer Dia stands out, with more than 80 eponymous store openings annually, partly thanks to franchise.
To keep apace and strengthen its small-box network, Carrefour is reportedly launching a new banner called ‘5 minutos’ – similar to a Carrefour Express in terms of size and assortment. The key difference is that the former would be operated in franchise and target lower-tier cities, which represent more investment risk than the more affluent and densely populated urban regions of Buenos Aires and Córdoba (central Argentina). Planet Retail believes that Carrefour’s need to introduce the new 5 minutos banner was motivated by practical considerations as some franchisees could not fulfil the standard requirements to operate under the Carrefour name.
Current high inflation topped by political intervention in terms of production and consumption (eg, price freezes) are likely to weaken retailers’ margins and capacity/willingness to invest. Franchising is therefore an attractive means to expand with limited capital expenditure, which can be redirected to perceived safer investments, such as store refurbishment.