July 17, 2009

1st European convenience store conference

1st European Convenience Store Conference (photo: The Conference Group)
Premier event: The 1st European Convenience Store Conference will be held in Wiesbaden on 1st-2nd September
This is a must if you are into convenience. The 1st European Convenience Store Conference will be hosted on September 1-2, 2009 in the elegant town of Wiesbaden, near Frankfurt. Under the motto "Growing through the crisis – new opportunities for convenience concepts in Germany and Europe!" this inaugural event hosted by The Conference Group, will address the most important questions and strategies for success in the trade. Keynote speakers include Lekkerland CEO Christian Berner, Hank Armour, CEO of The Association for Convenience & Petroleum Retailing (NACS), Martin Orterer, executive sales director of Rewe Group, and Jacek Roszyk, CEO of Zabka Polska. Other international guests at the two-day international conference are Dr. Gordon Campbell, CEO of Spar International, Markus Laenzlinger, executive director of Migros-subsidiary Migrolino, Mike Greene, CEO of HIM UK, and Coca-Cola food service marketing manager Thomas Novak. See you there?
July 15, 2009

Delhaize bids adieu to Germany

Delhaize in Cologne (photo: Georg Lukas)
Very long test: After six years of losses Delhaize has finally thrown in the towel in Germany
Few could honestly claim they were surprised at the news. Belgian retailer Delhaize Group has sold its four supermarkets & convenience outlets in the Cologne/Aix-la-Chapelle region for an undisclosed price. The buyer: Germany's second-largest food retailer Rewe Group. Thus, Delhaize joins a dozen-or-so major international retailers who have failed to make it in Europe's strongest economy over the last few decades. The Delhaize stores were moderately attractive, but weren't able to generate enough customer footfall to compensate the generally low-price environment in German retailing. Only last year, Lebensmittel Zeitung asked Delhaize Group CEO Pierre-Olivier Beckers what was the logic behind entering a discount-dominated market ruled by a retail oligopoly. His reply: "Our starting point was to look for growth potential in areas where the geographical proximity to Belgium can leverage our store presence, scale, buying and systems etc. So, we first turned to Luxembourg and then looked at the western side of Germany." So a case of trial & error?
July 13, 2009

Migros worried by Lidl in Switzerland

Herbert Bolliger, CEO Migros (photo: Christian Aeberhard)
Herbert Bolliger: "We'll never sell below cost price"
Poor old Switzerland! It could all have been such a happy little paradise for those who want to enjoy their gold bullion discreetly and securely. But, however, those horrid German discounters have set up shop and are making the place affordable for Joe Average. Is nothing sacred anymore? One bastion is crumbling after another: first it was banking secrecy and now retailing. Once upon a time, life was so cosy for Migros and Coop Schweiz in Swiss retailing, and the good Swiss burghers were obliged to pay their prices. But now German discounters are spreading throughout the country and ruining the party. Who let the alley cats out and set them among the pigeons? Since Aldi's arrival in October 2005 Switzerland's retail elite has oscillated between demonstrative nonchalance and periodic fits of blue funk when it comes to dealing with hard discounters from over the border. The latest show of nerves comes from Migros CEO Herbert Bolliger.
July 13, 2009

dm Chairman Götz Werner speaks out

Götz Werner, Chairman of dm (photo: dm)
Götz Werner: "Customers must feel good about what they buy"
Professor Götz W. Werner, the founder and supervisory board chairman of Karlsruhe-based dm-Drogeriemarkt drugstore chain, is an éminence grise in the trade. He is also one of the thought-leaders in German retailing. Werner's ethical-green-humanitarian stance is reflected in dm's nearly 1,100 first-class stores. His modest lifestyle is complimented by the decent way he treats management and staff. Professor Werner frequently discusses his thought-provoking socio-economic theses in the local media. Surely, these ought to be made available to a wider international audience? At any rate, one opinion of his is water to our mill. Werner criticises the tendency of many German retailers to hide behind a low-profile press & PR policy. Instead, he believes that retailers should be absolutely transparent and open in all their doings. Dear Professor Werner, are you quite sure you are a German retailer?
July 8, 2009

Metro hypermarket boss sees turnaround

Joël Saveuse, CEO Metro Cash & Carry (photo: Georg Lukas)
Joël Saveuse: "We are already in the black"
Joël Saveuse, CEO of Metro Group hypermarkt subsidiary real,-, was virtually dragged back from retirement in 2007 by his employers. The new mission they have set him is certainly a challenging one. The mild-mannered Frenchman must breathe a fresh dose of life into Metro's ailing Big Box format. Saveuse (56) is confident that real,- will achieve revenues of around €12bn by 2010. He also claims that the hypermarket division is already in the black and would have achieved operational profit last year had extraordinary items been excluded. In Turkey, for instance, real,- is capable of achieving annual sales density double the hypermarket average in Germany (€35,000/ft²). But overall the man still faces an unenviable task.
July 5, 2009

Talk with Barilla Chairman Guido Barilla

Guido Barilla: (photo: Luigi Vasini)
Guido Barilla: "The family are shareholders only one day a year"
Guido Barilla, co-owner and chairman of Barilla Holding, arrives unpretentiously at Parma head office in a VW Passat without a chauffeur. His salt & pepper mid-length hair makes him look more like a laid-back clarinettist in a jazz band than a leading Italian pasta & baked goods manufacturer. He is also a straight talker: "I won't vet the text afterwards; I stand by everything I say here." This is brave stuff considering that the fifty-one-year-old executive is also going to have to field questions about the mine-strewn purchase of German bakery chain Kamps and police raids for alleged price fixing.
July 4, 2009

Edeka and Rewe annual conferences

Markus Mosa (photo: Edeka)
Markus Mosa: "Discount is our main business field"
Last week, Edeka and Rewe held their annual get-togethers for their independent members. If any foreign observer wanted a quick insight into German retailing, there would be no better way than to attend these two meetings. Rewe CEO Alain Caparros: "We're not into growth at any price" In fact, it would be particularly instructive as both companies are seriously underreported abroad. Presumably, this is because both groups are not plcs and therefore not open to foreign investors. The lack of media coverage is all the more astonishing when one considers that Edeka-Gruppe is Germany's largest food retailer with a market share of 15 per cent and Rewe Group a strong number two (13.4 per cent).
July 3, 2009

Arcandor stops sale of Karstadt

Karl-Gerhard Eick (photo: Telekom)
Karl-Gerhard Eick: Poker or brinkmanship?
Karl-Gerhard Eick, CEO of insolvent German retail group Arcandor, has told Dr. Eckhard Cordes, the boss of rival Metro Group, to back off. This is an unusual way to treat a potential buyer of Arcandor's Karstadt department stores. But Eick has issued a clear public warning after Cordes had been carrying on a debate in the local media about his plans to buy 60 of the 91 Karstadt outlets. Clearly, Cordes would like to merge them with Metro’s own Galeria Kaufhof department store chain and form a new company, Deutsche Warenhaus AG. So why are these gunslingers facing each other off on the High Street?
July 2, 2009

Metro Group shapes up for 2012

Zygmunt Mierdort, HR director Metro Group (photo: Anna-Maria Romanelli)
Zygmunt Mierdorf: "Fix it, sell it or close it"
Call out the instigators, 'cos a revolution's here!" Metro Group has completed the first phase of its reconstruction programme "Shape 2012" aimed at revitalising Germany’s largest retailer. Zygmunt Mierdorf, HR board member, is satisfied with the progress made since the inauguration of Shape in January. The programme's central aim is to increase ebit by €1.5bn and to bring the world’s third-largest retailer more into line with the performance of its global retail peers. But this is no mere benchmarking exercise, Shape represents a qualitative move towards a more customer-centric corporate culture. Around €800m of the targeted ebit increase is to be achieved by slashing costs. This means around 300 job cuts and the reassignment of a further 2,700 employees. Hopefully, the revolution won't now proceed to eat its own children.
July 2, 2009

Rewe Group discovers premium own label

Rewe Group own label (photo: Bert Bostelmann)
Red umbrella: Rewe is using own label to create a national retail brand
Rewe Group's new baby hasn't even been christened yet, but, like any proud father, top manager Lionel Souque says it's going to be a "cracker". Germany’s second-largest food retailer will launch a premium own label range in its supermarkets this autumn. After around two years labour, it will certainly have been a long birth. However, the new premium own brand will see the light of day this October in time to profit from vital Christmas trading. The new premium range will initially cover approximately 60 to 100 gourmet lines with the main emphasis on dry goods and fresh produce. Prices will generally undercut manufacturers' brands, but Rewe knows that it will not be easy to launch a premium range in the current economic situation.