Judith Kolenburg provides an analysis of the discount retail market while Hans Kraak examines what retailers are doing to boost fibre consumption.
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A successful store requires more than just the right pricing and promotions. Grégoire Kaufman, ex-Head of private label at Carrefour, reveals traits of the “most attractive” stores.
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PLMA e-Scanner – January 2023

January, 2023
Robots could cut 'last mile' delivery cost

The “last mile” of home delivery takes such a big share of costs for retailers it's no surprise companies are trialing various solutions to mitigate these. In some cities in the UK, for example, Co-op is exploring sidewalk delivery robots to bring customers’ online purchases to their home. The machine drives using GPS and customers are sent a unique code to their smartphones so they can access their shopping. “The Co-op is committed to exploring new technologies and seeking new ways to innovate”, says Co-op's head of food digital.

Rewe is equally trialing a sidewalk robot in the Hamburg area in Germany. Customers can place their orders via the app and employees of the store assemble the products and place them in the cargo hold of the delivery bot. The robot should reach its destination within two hours thanks to sophisticated technology with sensors, radar, lighting system, artificial intelligence and integrated navigation system. Customers will then receive a message with a pin via the app, with which they can open the delivery bot. In Lithuania, the retailer goes one step further and is testing an autonomous delivery van with its subsidiary Iki. The small self-driving electric car drives on the road and delivers the order to the customer’s doorstep and notifies them via a mobile app that the order is ready to be picked up. The customer only has to enter the order collection code and collect the purchase.

In Belgium, retail leader Colruyt is testing an autonomous delivery vehicle. After weeks of tests in the parking lot of its DC, it now drives unmanned on public roads. However, the car is monitored remotely by an employee who can intervene if necessary. Carrefour just started a pilot with a delivery robot at a business complex in the country.

Not only the high costs of the last mile, also labour shortages, high wages, the desire for 24/7 availability and mobility problems in cities are pushing retailers to find new solutions. As of now, the legal framework for autonomous delivery cars on public roads isn’t there, the EU Commission has taken on the topic and is currently creating such a framework with new regulations. So far, however, many national and local permits have been required.

Aldi has ambitious plans in Poland but leaves Denmark

Discounter Aldi plans to open up to 600 new stores in Poland within the next five years. On the long term, by 2032, the retailer wants to have a thousand locations in the country. Currently, the company has about 240 stores with an average sales area of around 1,000 square meters. Aldi has been active in Poland since 2008.

Aldi Poland CEO Wojciech Łubieński said that the expansion will bring the company the appropriate scale and further profitability. He assumes organic growth, but if the opportunity should arise, Aldi is also ready for takeovers.

The growth plans also, and consequently, include the expansion of logistics. In the fall, Aldi opened its second warehouse, and the company plans to build two more in the near future.

Aldi is pulling out of the Danish market. It has sold 114 stores to Norway’s Reitan Retail which operates the Rema1000 discount chain in Denmark. The deal makes Rema the largest single chain in the country. Aldi was the first discounter in Denmark when it opened its first store there 45 years ago. According to Reitan owner Odd Reitan, this served as an inspiration for his own grocery stores.

Aldi’s exit from Denmark is part of its strategic decision to focus on the eight European markets where the discounter achieves better results and sees long-term potential.

Making the Single Market work for all

EuroCommerce has called on the European Union and Member States to address the fragmentation of the single market caused by large manufacturers of consumer goods. According to the European association of retailers, the manufacturers restrict the freedom of retail companies to get the best deal throughout Europe and artificially raise prices for consumers.

These restrictions, the so-called Territorial Supply Constraints, are practices imposed by brand suppliers when dealing with retail buyers. They force retailers to source products domestically or prevent them from ‘parallel trading’ products from another Member State.

According to the association, the restrictions have the aim and effect of segmenting the market and maintaining significant price differentials across countries. They restrain retailers from freely purchasing goods in the countries of their choice. If retailers try to circumvent the TSCs, the large brand suppliers are well placed to withhold or ration supplies due to their market power.

This means consumers in certain countries are often charged more or have access to fewer products. The European Commission estimated that these market restrictions are costing European consumers at least €14 billion. Those retailers who seek to operate more efficiently by sourcing centrally or in another market may find their supplies curtailed or stopped completely.

JD.com’s Ochama expands in Europe

Ochama, part of Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com, started in Europe with the launch of physical stores in The Netherlands one year ago. In the meantime, the company has been quietly expanding across the border and the website and app are now available for customers in nine countries. The retailer sells a mix of groceries, electronics, cosmetics, clothing, as well as home & living products and toys.

Upon its start in The Netherlands, it had put its bet on high-tech robotized pick-up shops, with four locations where customers could come and collect their online orders. Currently, three of the four shops have been closed and the Dutch CEO has left. The company is now controlled directly from China and is apparently changing its course. The new approach is a cooperation with third party pick-up points and home delivery.

In the Netherlands, France, Belgium and Germany, the retailer has found partners, store (chains) that act as a takeaway point. In these countries, customers can order fresh and frozen food in addition to Ochama’s regular offer. In Spain, Italy, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Luxembourg, only home delivery is available, which excludes fresh and frozen food orders.

In the Stores 

Casino is testing a new hard discount concept under the name of LP in Normanville, France. The 650 sqm store carries no A-brands and has a limited assortment of 2,000 SKUs.

Supermarket operator Billa is investing over € 40 million in expanding its store network and a new warehouse in Bulgaria. The company already has the largest number of stores in the country.

Albert Heijn has taken over southern Dutch supermarket chain Jan Linders. The take-over comprises over fifty stores and a distribution center. Family-owned Jan Linders will continue as an Albert Heijn franchiser. By the end of the year, all stores should be converted to the new format.

Pan Panorama has revamped the I Tesori own brand line. Particular attention was paid to the ingredients, of Italian origin and typical of Italy’s gastronomic tradition.

Carrefour has become the first retailer in Spain to launch brocomole under its El Mercado brand. This product is a vegetable spread made with 54% broccoli and 43% avocado and also does not contain gluten, lactose or added sugars.

Rewe has opened the first fully automated store in downtown Munich. The concept is called Pick&Go and allows customers to pick and bag the items they want and leave the store without going through a checkout.

Asda has introduced two new dedicated vegan ranges, OMV and Plant Based by Asda. The ranges comprise 112 products and include indulgent meat-free meals and healthy, nutritionist-approved meat alternatives.

Pingo Doce has launched a new app, Meu Pingo Doce, which gives users the possibility to join exclusive clubs, benefit from special discounts and enjoy a number of other advantages.

Online supermarket Sezamo, part of the Rohlik group, has launched operations in Romania. It offers over 10,000 fresh products directly from local farmers and food from local artisans as well as popular supermarket brands.

Covirán has added the certified lactose-free seal of the Association of Lactose Intolerants of Spain to 49 of its own brand products. The retailer thus makes it easier for consumers that need to eliminate lactose from their diet to clearly identify items suitable for consumption.

Sainsbury's is removing single-use plastic lids from its own-brand dip pots. The move follows the earlier removal of single-use lids from the own brand creams, cheeses and yoghurts.

Mercadona has renewed its assortment of baby care products, marketed under the Deliplus brand. The line consists of baby wipes, diapers with wetness indicator, baby bottles, ointments and teats. All items have been manufactured under strict quality controls.

dm is testing Electronic Shelf Labels in two stores. As part of the pilot, the retailer is also trying out the display of the ratings of the respective product by dm customers. The ESL shows the average rating in the form of stars and the number of ratings which is updated daily.

Spar has launched five new own brand confectionery lines in its UK stores. The lines include vegan and vegetarian sweets and impulse products with exciting flavours.

Market Research 
Retail subscriptions for groceries and beauty are exploding

A study by Deloitte and Zupoa has found that by 2025, 20% of retail customers globally will be represented by new subscribers. The most common subscriptions are membership and the replenishment box. The most successful product sectors for subscriptions are electronics (19%), groceries (17%) and beauty and cosmetics (15%).

In Europe, people are willing to spend 80 euros a month for the electronics sector, 78.30 euros for groceries and 55.70 euros for beauty and cosmetics.  The highest number of subscribers is found in consumer electronics, 21%, but grocery is expected to grow rapidly, +14%, to match the electronics sector in 2025.

Online site Picnic says own brand is growing

According to an analysis by online supermarket Picnic of one million households reveals that customers not only ordered more often from Picnic, but also more products. The three fastest climbers on the shopping lists are products from foreign cuisine. The Picnic own brand also continues to grow 'considerably'.

According to Picnic, mozzarella, mini Turkish pizzas and garlic sauce are among the three 'fastest risers' on customer shopping lists in 2022. Yet, just like last year, cucumbers, semi-skimmed milk and bananas are again the traditional top 3 of most sold products, according to an analysis by Picnic of one million households. Another striking list is the top 5 of forgotten products. Customers add these to their shopping basket after checkout. It concerns the following items: cucumber, zucchini, red pepper, broccoli and bananas.

The own brand that Picnic launched in 2021 is experiencing strong growth.The fastest climbers: the baguettes and pistolets, hazelnut spread and three varieties of peanut butter.

Vegan more than a niche

One in every five Germans (20.5%) are concerned with a vegan lifestyle and eat vegan food at least occasionally. This results from a survey by Civey on behalf of Kaufland among 5,000 adults. Particularly in demand: milk alternatives, meat substitutes and vegan sausages. In addition to animal welfare (65.3%) and climate protection (54.2%), the most common reasons for vegan nutrition are also health aspects (31.3%).

And it is not a short-term trend. Almost every third person (27.7 percent) has relied on plant-based foods for more than six years. Particularly important for vegans: food substitutes for products of animal origin. More than half of those surveyed who often or always eat vegan use these. 84.9 percent of all respondents confirm that it has become easier to eat vegan.

PLMA News 
PLMA’s Roundtable Conference, 8-9 March 2023 in Rotterdam

PLMA's Annual Roundtable Conference opens its doors again on 8-9 March 2023 at the Hilton Hotel in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Key-note speakers of Mintel, Tesco, EY Knowledge, Rohlik and more will share their inspiring and thought-provoking insights on the following topics:

  • Private Label getting Ready for the Future
  • How to Work with Europe’s International Discounters
  • Retail Case Study: Private Label and Online Retailing
  • Prepare Your Business for the Consumer of Tomorrow
  • A Retailer’s View: How to Deliver True Sustainable Packaging

The two days provide great networking opportunities during lunches, a cocktail reception and a visit to mayor retail stores in Rotterdam.

For more information on the programme, please click here.

1 February

PLMA's Online Lunch and Learn Speaker Series

8-9 March

PLMA’s annual Roundtable Conference
Rotterdam, The Netherlands

23-24 May

PLMA’s “World of Private Label” International Trade Show
Amsterdam, The Netherlands