April 29, 2021

Aldi wants to stay in China

Aldi China CEO Christoph Schwaiger (photo: Aldi Süd)
Aldi China
Aldi's man in China: Christoph Schwaiger
Four years ago this week, Aldi created an online presence in the People's Republic. In June 2019, Germany's most profitable food discounter opened the first of now 15 stores in Shanghai. But a lot has happened in the world since then. Covid has hit retailers particularly hard, while international relations between China and the West have soured. Country manager Christoph Schwaiger insists, however, that "our focus remains on building a long-term presence in China". While watching political developments "closely", he sees "no direct effects at an operations level on our business activities". The privately-owned company has underlined this international commitment to a vast market, which returned to record economic growth in the first quarter, by sharing some photos of its latest stores:
March 18, 2021

When big retailers go shopping together

Robin Hood (source: okalinichenko-Fotolia)
Robin Hood: Stole from the rich and, as historical romance would have it, gave to the poor. Was he the first retailer? (illustration: okalinichenko-Fotolia)
European retailer buying alliances such as Agecore, AMS, Coopernic, EMD or Eurelec have pretty harmless sounding names. But the larger ones have come in for a lot of stick recently. This is particularly the case if you are a member based in France where you are most likely to be clobbered by the local competition authorities. French giant Leclerc is still contesting the intellectual justice of a €117m fine threatened in 2017 for an alleged cavalier approach to European terms & conditions in relation to suppliers. Now, fellow retailer cooperative Intermarché is under investigation for allegedly also straying from the straight and narrow path of trade virtue and faces a potential fine of €150m. Both organisations protest their innocence. So, are members of European retail alliances the villains of the piece, waylaying harmless brand manufacturers like masked highwaymen along the roadside?
February 25, 2021

Visit to Russian discounter MERE in Poland

Super cool prices: A Siberian retailer comes to Poland   (photo: Shchipkova Elena/stock.adobe.com)
Shchipkova Elena/stock.adobe.com
From Russia with love: This Siberian retailer offers super-cool prices
When Russian hard discounter MERE opened its first store in Germany two years ago, one had to be sceptical. Despite what the media hype suggested, anyone with the slightest grasp of the German grocery market must surely have known that even a no-frills retailer is not well advised to challenge local giants Lidl or Aldi on their home turf. From Day One, the 100-plus stores MERE announced for the first year seemed like an Orwellian utopia but with much less technology...
February 18, 2021

CEO Frans Muller talks Ahold Delhaize

Frans Muller, Ahold CEO (photo: Philipp von Bruchhausen)
(photo: Philipp von Bruchhausen)
Ahold Delhaize CEO Frans Muller
Ahold Delhaize continues to fulfil its destiny as an omni-channel success machine. Nowhere can you see this better than in cyberspace. The Dutch-Belgian retail giant wants to push online sales strongly again this year by at least 30 per cent. This would mean an estimated €9.8bn in net digital sales, including marketplace revenues. The historic company, whose shares are listed on the Amsterdam bourse, has just issued some pretty sprightly figures for 2020. Its supermarkets, convenience stores and digital operations in the Benelux, CEE as well as the US posted a stomping €75bn in net sales. This represents a massive online plus of 67 per cent and like-for-likes of 13 per cent for bricks & mortar. But the Covid pandemic fuelled all system-relevant retailers last year, and most customers will get their jabs in 2021 as society comes out of lockdown. Meanwhile, corona-related costs have cut operating income by 16.6 per cent. So, should the champagne corks be popping again at HQ in Zaandam? We asked the boss...
January 21, 2021

Lidl all set to go in Latvia

Reindeer (photo: Patrick_B_animal)
Pack the sledge, harness the reindeer, and head for Latvia, chaps! This, or something like it, could have been the latest order of the day issued by Klaus Gehrig, big boss at mega-discounter Schwarz Group. Germany's largest retailer finished recruiting a first wave of store staff at the end of December. Trade experts believe that a dozen of its 'Lidl' stores will open within the next few weeks. The final kick-off date will, apparently, depend on what the situation is regarding the Covid pandemic. So, let's have a look at what this value merchant is up to in the Baltic.
December 26, 2020

Retail pundits predict 2021 and beyond

Pythia, an ancient Greek soothsayer (photo: Olga Kuevda_shutterstock)
Olga Kuevda_shutterstock
The mother of all soothsayers is regrettably no longer available to advise traders on the marketplace
Who would have thought it this time last year? Our panel of experts would have been laughed out of court had they predicted that today's consumers would be wearing protective masks on eerily quiet shopping streets, while fearing both infection from the coronavirus and the worst recession in generations. And what a year it has been! In 2020 trade, political and social cohesion, and even our well-being have been challenged as seldom before in peacetime. In this chaos and turbulence, experts and advisors are needed more than ever to provide their confused fellow mortals with at least some form of a guide. If the scourge of Covid-19 has any silver lining at all, it might be that months of working in home, sorry, mobile office and holding video conferences may have forced some of the more reflective to reimagine capitalism as we know it. Perhaps it is demanding too much of our international trade gurus to reconfigure our whole system, but how about retail? We therefore asked them: What do you see as the most significant or exciting development in retailing/fmcg manufacturing and challenge for the future?
December 10, 2020

DAIS expects you to resist on March 24 & 25

DAIS virtual congress, scene 1 (source: planung&analyse)
Save the date: Who says data can't be sexy? All marketers should be ready for some digital flirtation in March
Ugly Mr Covid has hit few business areas within our publishing company, dfv Media Group, harder than our Conference Group division. Another prominent victim of the pandemic was the annual Insights Congress of our market research & marketing magazine, planung&analyse, this autumn. But never underestimate the resilience of the female species. Sabine Hedewig-Mohr, managing editor of planung&analyse, and Diana Goldbeck, MD of dfv Conference Group, have created a virtual platform for international exhibitions that will appeal to marketers from all trades. The first such cyber venue, under the name Data Analytics & Insights Salon (DAIS), will be held on March 24 & 25 next year. Want to know more?
December 7, 2020

Retailers want us all to indulge at Xmas

Father Christmas (photo: MillesStudio/shutterstock)
Ho-ho-ho: Retailers world-wide are striving to outdo each other with their Christmas commercials. But what does Santa think?
At the end of this tedious coronavirus year, let's have a look around the global village and see how the world's retailers are celebrating Christmas. All you need to do is click the link embedded in each company name and watch the commercial they have designed to promote sales during the festive season. If the birth of Christ was re-enacted today, one wonders how biblical figures would manage to celebrate a Covid Christmas. Perhaps the shepherds would only be allowed to view the babe in the crib if they took a fever test and wore protective masks. Or, would Joseph and Mary hold virtual tours of the stable on Zoom? Not a Christian and don't celebrate Christmas? Don't worry, no one's perfect. Hopefully, we also have many Moslems, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists and agnostics among our international subscribers. These readers can still enjoy the creativity and humour that retail marketing departments and advertising agencies have employed in a relentless assault on customer pockets...
November 12, 2020

Europe's top-dog retailers

Ranking podium (source: EFKS/shutterstock)
European champions: Schwarz Group gets gold, Amazon silver, and Rewe bronze
If you hang our latest Top 50 ranking table of European retailers on your office wall, it will doubtless impress all trade visitors. But what are sales and market share prognoses for 2020 without interpretation? Even the most cursory glance at this fascinating snapshot, compiled by Edge Retail Insight, demands an answer to a number of questions. Why, for instance, does the largest retailer on the continent still make hardly more than one per cent of its annual sales online when Amazon is already snapping at its heels? Or why are there still no retailers from Central & Eastern Europe in the Top 10 – thirty years after the collapse of the Soviet bloc?
November 12, 2020

Talk with Alibaba president on Singles' Day

Alibaba logo (photo: screenshot from Alibaba Group's newsroom Alizila)
Alibaba in Guanggun Jie (Singles' Day) look
For better or for worse, everyone knows Amazon. But Alibaba? China's leading e-commerce player is still relatively unknown in the West. For many consumers the name probably still conjures up 40 thieves rather than an online retailer with global ambitions. Our readers, of course, know that Alibaba is a digital giant and a bit like Amazon, PayPal and Twitter all rolled into one. The Hangzhou-based company founded by legendary entrepreneur Jack Ma in 1999 is also growing like a supernova. According to Edge Retail Analysis, it still ranks only number 22 among Europe's top retailers by sales, but these jumped 24.5 per cent last year, outpacing even Amazon. The corporate boilerplate is certainly ambitious: "Our mission is to make it easy to do business anywhere. We aim to build the future infrastructure of commerce. We envision that our customers will meet, work and live at Alibaba, and that it will be a company that lasts at least 102 years." Why, though, 102 years and not 91 or 203 years? Perhaps Alibaba president Mike Evans will enlighten us...