January 21, 2020

Rohlik wants to ring German doorbells

Rohlik-CEO Tomáš Čupr (photo: Rohlik)
CEO Tomáš Čupr: Is determined to make Rohlik an international brand
Rohlik.cz is already the leading home delivery company for food in its native Czech Republic. The online start-up now intends to honk its horn in Germany within the next three to five years. "It's my primary objective," says CEO and co-founder Tomáš Čupr. Rohlik has just kick-started international expansion in neighbouring Hungary and will press the ignition button in both Vienna and Bucharest later this year. Čupr sees both range selection and delivery speed as the company's USP, especially when competing with bricks & mortar retailers who try to run online shops. Rohlik is currently active in nine Czech cities where it can deliver within a timeframe of just two hours. Even in distant Budapest, where international retail giants like Tesco, Auchan or Spar deliver the next day, the pure player says it can get the job done in three hours. It's one thing to be quick, but it's a completely different thing to be both fast and profitable. So how do these Czechs make their dough?
December 26, 2019

Retail pundits predict 2020 and beyond

crystal ball (photo: Kzenon-stock.adobe.com)
Another year, another decade. Given the current rate of global warming, what will the state of the world be in 2029? Will electric canoes have replaced the motor car on flooded streets – much to the glee of Greta Thunberg, the new president of the EU Commission? Brexit Britain will have either sunk into the North Sea or have confounded its detractors by transforming London into a Singapore-upon-Thames. And what of today's strongmen? Will Trump, Putin, Erdogan & Co. be revered as national heroes in white marble monuments or will a new female meritocracy have assigned them to the dustbin of history? In view of these riveting issues, it is almost unfair to ask our international panel of experts: "What do you see as the most significant or exciting development in retailing/fmcg manufacturing and the most important challenge for the future?" But perhaps they could at least tell us, whether these will be the Roaring Twenties for the trade or whether shopping as we know it will disappear for ever. True to our reputation for fairness, we print their answers in alphabetical order of surname...
December 19, 2019

Christmas thoughts on German Retail Blog

Nietzsche (by Maria Breda_shutterstock); this illustration has been reversed for layout reasons
Nietzsche, che dice?
Nietzsche considered it an infallible sign of decadence when art makes art its subject. So this strange German philosopher would probably not approve of any blog talking about itself, albeit for the first time since its creation ten years ago. Although praise of one's employers always sounds hoaky, it is to their credit that this blog has never been subjected to rigorous cost analysis. Clearly, our publishers see it as one of many facets within the manufactory of LZnet, the online arm of our weekly B2B newspaper Lebensmittel Zeitung. The reverse side of this generosity of spirit is the non-existence of any budget (importunate SEO advisers please take note). But employees are not obliged to whinge and whine when corporate cost controllers do not choose to wine and dine. Instead even German journalists, who must keep their hands unsullied by filthy lucre as per strict local press law, may take up the search for a payment model as a challenge worthy of the online entrepreneur...
December 18, 2019

What can it be, this loadbee?

Loadbee product services (source: Loadbee)
Today's trade has become so technical that one often wonders if it has now become a province for nerds only. It is therefore refreshing that founder & CEO Christian Junker doesn't strike out into Aramaic when discussing the merits of German start-up loadbee. The idea behind this Swabian company seems savvy enough. Loadbee provides brands with the software to display their products on retailer web shops. A mere glance at many of these will confirm that products are often sold in a way that does little credit to either manufacturer or retailer. Meanwhile online customers just have to grin and bear it. So there is clearly a need for more elegant presentation in cyberspace. But why can't either the retailer or the manufacturer just do it themselves? Junker insists they need a middle-man...
November 28, 2019

Frans Muller talks Ahold Delhaize

Ahold Delhaize CEO Frans Muller (photo: Philipp von Bruchhausen)
Frans Muller
Frans Muller may be a mild-mannered gentleman with a pleasing dash of humour, but he's a frustrating CEO to interview. He won't tell you whom Ahold Delhaize wants to buy next or if the Dutch retail giant intends to do a spin-off! As a matter of honour, he won't even talk about one of his former employers, Metro Group. But as disappointing as these silences are to the journalist, the more one is grudgingly obliged to respect the man's loyalty to shareholders and corporate governance. Before we praise this 58-year-old Dutchman to death for not delivering the crown jewels free-of-charge to our doorstep via the company's online services Peapod or Bol.com, why should you, dear reader, peruse these lines further? Perhaps through an innate sense of politeness at not being able to field share price-sensitive questions, Muller was prepared to talk generically about the strategic issues he faces at the helm of this €63bn-odd behemoth...
November 28, 2019

Mayhem on the UK High Street

Scene on a UK High Street (photo: onflilm_iStock by getty images)
Ready for the tumbleweed?
As most UK retailers prepare for a probably not so merry Christmas and further Brexit uncertainty, German trade visitors from across the North Sea look with astonishment at the numerous store closures on the once vibrant UK High Street. Those with any imagination, however, have no sense of schadenfreude. Although the online share of German retailing has not reached anywhere near UK levels, one doesn't exactly need a crystal ball to know in what direction things will inevitably go. It is therefore almost an act of self-preservation on the part of German retailers to try and understand what is happening among the Anglo-Saxons. Clearly, if we exclude the disruption caused by the relentless rise of discounters Aldi and Lidl, many shoppers are buying increasing amounts on the internet. So, without any pretension to statistical relevance, we thought we would ask some younger British consumers on the eve of Black Friday why they prefer surfing cyberspace to walking through the urban jungle...
August 15, 2019

LZ American summer tour: Talk with Facebook

American dog, LZ summer tour II (photo: Javier Brosch/Shutterstock.com)
On the second part of our annual summer tour, Lebensmittel Zeitung's feature page editor Mathias Himberg spoke with Carolyn Everson, Vice President Global Marketing Solutions, at Facebook. With its communication platforms Instagram and WhatsApp, Facebook is one of the world's largest internet companies. Founded by eternally preppy Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook has mainly used advertising to nearly quintuple annual revenues from $12.5bn to $55.8bn over the last five years. Net earnings have grown even more extravagantly from $2.9bn to $22.1bn during the same period. But what would any Silicon Valley tech giant be these days without a good old-fashioned scandal? Facebook has not failed us and has duly broken the 11th commandment: "Thou shalt not get found out."
July 26, 2019

Carrefour-Casino and the elephant marriage

Elephant marriage (photo: nattanan726/Shutterstock)
The mating of elephants is a surprisingly delicate business. These pachyderms are said to be exceedingly coy and, despite their huge size, take fright easily. The same would seem to apply to French retail giants Carrefour and Casino who are believed to have had a tiff on their first date last autumn. If trade gossip is to be believed, Carrefour CEO Alexandre Bompard and Jean-Charles Naouri, the main shareholder of Casino, met at the home of illustrious matchmaker Alain Minc. Both Bompard and Naouri are internationally renowned figures, but you probably won't know Minc. This is because 'le grand Alain' deliberately cultivates a low profile despite, or precisely because of, his legendary business and political contacts. One thing is for sure, though, you only do big things with Big Alan, and it is highly unlikely that the three gentlemen convened to play tiddlywinks. But did this trio ever get together at all? At least one of the parties involved claims that there was no such meeting, two of them have argued publicly as to who approached whom first. This is all very amusing and a field day for journalists, but doesn't really help us further. The whole matter can and should, perhaps, be archived under the title 'curious stories'. Over the last few weeks, however, speculation has again flared up in Parisian financial circles that informal contacts may have restarted...
July 4, 2019

LZ American summer tour: Talk with Google

American dog (photo: Javier Brosch/Shutterstock)
Despite Donald Trump, escalating trade wars and tough competition, the sheer size of the American retail market never fails to attract. According to the Food Marketing Institute, the US counts 38,300 stores, 4.8m employees and annual sales north of $700bn. America is also a melting pot of ideas and home to so many Silicon Valley innovators who have forged today's digital revolution. As part of our annual summer tour, LZ editor Mathias Himberg visited the land of seemingly endless opportunity. His first meeting was with Daniel Alegre, President for Strategic Partnerships in Commerce & Retail, at Google HQ in Mountain View, California. Their talk ranged from cooperation with French retail giant Carrefour to how the company entered online retailing and the potential behind voice-controlled systems. In 2018 the online behemoth posted sales north of $136bn. The lion's share (85 per cent) came from advertising revenues. Its cyberspace empire includes Google Maps and the video portal YouTube. Net profit came in at a staggering $30.7bn. The share price of Nasdaq-listed parent-company Alphabet, Inc. has been treading water since the beginning of the year but has nearly doubled since 2014. For some Google is a hero of the internet economy. Others criticise the online giant as an intransparent monopolist with a patchy record on data protection. Love it or hate it, there is no way around it...
June 7, 2019

Shanghai welcomes Aldi!

Aldi Shanghai, store front (photo: Andrew Meredith)
Store front
Thought our readers would like to see some photos of Aldi's first two stores in the People's Republic of China, which opened this morning in Shanghai. We also managed to glean a few statements from country manager Christoph Schwaiger in between paring the cheese, counting the olives, and swabbing down the counters. Meanwhile, if you go shopping there, don't forget to drop us a line...