June 1, 2017

Welcome to Berlin, The Consumer Goods Forum

Berlin (photo: turtix/Shutterstock)
The decision by The Consumer Goods Forum to hold its 61st global summit this year in Berlin from June 20 to 23 is an honour for Germany. It also reflects the size and dynamism of the local market. Yet surprisingly only 25 of this influential trade body's 400 world-wide members, equally divided between retailers, manufacturers, and service providers/industry associations, come from Germany*. However, they number such heavyweights as Metro, Rewe or Henkel, and speakers at this year's venue include the CEOs of local retail giants Edeka and dm. Doubtless, representatives of secretive discounters Aldi, Lidl, and Kaufland will also attend the event, albeit with upturned collars and shaded glasses. But the mere presence of the good, great and beautiful doesn't protect any organisation, however illustrious, from becoming a mere talk shop. So we put Managing Director Peter Freedman through his paces and challenged him on how much progress the forum has made on international issues of vital strategic interest to the trade.
May 19, 2017

Lidl treks China's online Silk Road

Lidl on Tmall (source: screenshot)
Lidl on Tmall (screenshot)
Only days after Premier Xi Jinping announced his party's $900bn 'Belt and Road' initiative, Lidl is nearing completion of an online shop in the People's Republic. Like arch-rival Aldi, the German discount giant has chosen Alibaba's Tmall Global as its B2C platform. Although even the soft launch won't be until the end of May, the site can already be seen under lidl.tmall.hk. Customers will initially be able to choose from around 60 food lines. These dry goods include breakfast products, such as Maribel raspberry jam or Crownfield granola, as well as pasta and cooking ingredients such as Balsamic vinegar. The offer is essentially own label. Unlike Aldi, who imports from Australia, Lidl is sourcing directly from Germany via its buying subsidiary in Hong Kong. So what else is new?
May 4, 2017

Amazon gets Fresh in Germany

Amazon Fresh customers in Germany (photo: Amazon)
Amazon Fresh customers in Germany
When in Hollywood movies the bad guy asks the action hero's name, the cult answer is: "Your worst nightmare." As from today, German food retailers will at least find out whether Amazon Fresh is a game changer. They have certainly long been in denial. In a relentless hunt for sales, without even a cursory glance at the return on invested capital, local bricks & mortar retailers still can't build enough physical stores. This inexorable process has continued, regardless of how late such stores may be in their life cycle; regardless of the fact that Germany is already overstored by at least a third; and regardless of the growing consumer trend towards internet shopping. For years would-be pundits have comforted themselves by saying that the German market is so dominated by hard discounters that no online food retailer could ever make a profit here. For those readers who are not quite so sure, it might be worth looking at what Amazon has just begun in parts of Berlin and Potsdam.
April 28, 2017

Who says data can't be sexy?

screenshot of LZ Retailytics ad in English (source: LZ)
Screenshot of LZ Retailytics advertisement
It was a good year in the making, but well worth the wait: Today we are proud to announce the launch of our new retail data analysis platform, LZ Retailytics. As the strapline 'Smart Intelligence for Grocery Retail in Europe' implies, its mission is to provide the food retail industry and its business partners with insight, analysis and forecast data to support their business in Europe. This English-language digital and mobile platform will also deliver workshops, training courses and projects. LZ Retailytics tracks and analyses the business development of more than 1,000 grocery retail banners in 40 European countries. Want to know more?
April 27, 2017

Aldi goes cyber in China

Designer Collection - Leng (photo: Aldi Süd)
Aldi Süd
Enter the dragon and bring on the girls
It was some Grand Opening* in Shanghai this Tuesday. Five weeks after the soft launch, Aldi Süd (Aldi South), Germany's most profitable discounter, officially presented its new online shop to the People's Republic of China. No pains or expense were spared for the official ceremony at the Waterhouse in Shanghai. The gentle-voiced and incredibly popular, local singer Chen Kun had been recruited for the occasion. Perhaps a little incongruously for a retailer whose initial offer only includes 100 own-label food lines, the audience were also treated to a fashion show where young ladies with willowy bodies strutted their stuff on the catwalk. Of course, it could all have been just a glamour item, but perhaps the privately-run retail giant is hinting at introducing its successful fashion collection to the Middle Kingdom? At any event, when one considers that Aldi has opened an office with 40 staff in the centre of Shanghai and a big distribution centre in the port of Ningbo, its cooperation with Alibaba B2C platform Tmall Global looks far more than a toe-dipping exercise in the South China Sea. And as journalists we can only exult because the low-profile retailer authorised country manager Christoph Schwaiger to talk with our newspaper.
April 12, 2017

Retail security in the shadow of Stockholm

Swedish flag (photo: fotolia)
Länge leva Sverige (photo: fotolia)
The heinous and cowardly terrorist attack in the heart of the Swedish capital last Friday was above all things a crime against humanity and another sad chapter in man's seemingly limitless capacity for inhumanity towards his fellow man. As with the hostage-taking at the Westgate Shopping Mall in Nairobi in September 2013, this tragic event regrettably also has a retail context. A hijacked lorry was first deliberately driven at shoppers on Drottninggatan, Stockholm's busiest shopping street, and then into Sweden's largest department store Åhléns City. All responsible retailers will therefore again be asking themselves what more they can do to protect their customers. Few, understandably, wish to discuss their security measures in public. We therefore asked Will Geddes, CEO of International Corporate Protection in London, for his advice on enhancing retail security.
March 9, 2017

Aldi gets serious about bella Italia

A for Aldi (photo: Grafvision/Fotolia)
P is for pasta, A is for Aldi (photo: Grafvision/Fotolia)
Mamma mia! Fruitbook Magazine has actually flown over Aldi's first distribution centre in Italy and shot some photos. The site in Oppeano, 20km from the centre of Verona, is still under construction. But, as the picture taken in mid-February below shows, the German discount giant is well on the way to setting up shop in Venetia. One real estate developer tells us that Aldi is already searching for another DC of around 60,000m² to the south of Milan. Luigi Rubinelli, managing editor of RetailWatch, believes this could be in the vicinity of Piacenza. He also says that Aldi has just signed the lease on a first store in Merano. True to form, Hofer, Aldi South's Austrian subsidiary responsible for group expansion in bella Italia, remains tight-lipped. This gives free rein to speculation on how big the company wants to become south of the Alps. So what have we been able to piece together for our readers so far?
March 9, 2017

Kaufland nearly down under

Crocodile Dundee hat (photo: Richard Peterson/shutterstock)
Richard Peterson/shutterstock
Will Kaufland stock Crocodile Dundee hats in Australia? (photo: Richard Peterson/shutterstock)
"Strewth, cobber, another one's coming!" This, or similar, could be the reaction of Crocodile Dundee on hearing that German discounter Kaufland will be arriving soon in Oz. The Schwarz Group subsidiary and Lidl sister company has confirmed that a feasibility study on market entry has "already made considerable progress" but refrains from giving a specific starting date. The low-profile retail giant, with 1,230 compact hypermarkets in Germany and six Central & Eastern European countries, needn't be so coy, however. An increasing number of its top brass have been seen returning from Australia with a suntan of late, and we are happy to reveal that the corporate HQ will be in Melbourne. A glance at Kaufland Australia's new website (www.kaufland.com.au) confirms that they are already actively recruiting for a "letting manager". The company is also searching for locations with a minimum plot of 10,000m² and a preferred size of 15,000m² to 20,000m², including 200 to 300 parking spaces. Want to know more?
March 1, 2017

Aldi cyberises logo for China online entry

Aldis new logo (photo: Aldi Süd)
Sign of the times: Out with the old and in with the Asian online new (photo: Aldi Süd)
Women can fascinate by changing the way they look every day, if they so please, but big retailers are under a different set of constraints. Tinkering with the corporate logo can be a dangerous game because customers generally expect consistency from their local shop. Small wonder then that grocers generally opt for a conservative approach when it comes to design and optics. In the past, few retailers were more conservative than Aldi Süd (Aldi South), but the German discount giant has become noticeably more adventurous on its home market over the last two or three years. The new buzz is multifacetted and can be seen, for instance, in plans for an online shop in the People's Republic of China this spring. Soon shoppers in Old Europe, Donald Trump country, and Oz will also be greeted by a company sign worthy of our exciting new cyber age.
February 16, 2017

Lidl revs up for summer start in Virginia

Kickstarter in the US (photo: Dean Drobot/Shutterstock)
Dean Drobot/Shutterstock
Kickstart: Will Lidl speed growth in the US with an acquisition?
It is doubtful whether Donald Trump knows Lidl, and it is unlikely that Melania or Ivanka will ever go shopping in one of its no-frills stores. But, if the US president-in-tweet really means what he says about American jobs and putting more spending money in the pocket of the Average Joe, then he should be one of the very first to welcome the German discounter. We now know that Lidl will enter the US this summer, at least six months ahead of schedule. Twenty stores are planned for Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina in a first wave and up to 100 outlets across the East Coast by mid-2018. This will create around 4,000 new jobs over the same period. That's quite a bold start, but it took arch-rival Aldi 40 years to become even America's 20th-largest retailer. So, if Lidl doesn't want to wait most of this century before it joins the US big league, could the company go an a buying spree?