Auchan and E.Leclerc bet on BIO stores


Darek Gocławski


In May, I gave another interview to the News of Commerce. I encourage you to read this website. My opinion about the development trend of "BIO" in big stores in article below:

Auchan and E. Leclerc chain stores bet on "Bio"


E. Leclerc and Auchan invest in the development of healthy food sales and organic products. Both networks consider starting new concept stores with "bio" products in the next few years, also outside France. Experts have no doubt that the copy of the new concept in Poland is only a matter of time.

This year Auchan Group will consider starting new concept of organic food and goods stores. For about a year French authorities of the distributor examine the possibility of starting a new store format. Although Dorota Patejko (press office of Auchan Poland) assured us that this year Auchan does not plan to start any green shop and declined to comment on the development of this project in the future. Experts say that the entry of big players in the Polish 'bio' retail sector is only a matter of time. Meanwhile, in Paris countdown to Coeur de Nature (Heart of Nature) shops start-up continues. Chain will offer only organic products, 97 percent based on natural ingredients. Even before this year's holiday Auchan will launch a prototype shop offering organic products in Paris agglomeration. As we learned concept in the future could be implemented in other countries in which French network operates.

Country store on the urban settlement

Experts have no doubt that "Heart of Nature" stores expansion in Poland will mean investing in small places.

"Currently, operators prefer favorable location over the size of retail outlets. It will be the same with still emerging healthy food market" - said Dariusz Gocławski from the A+D Retail Store Design studio, which arranges the interiors of hyper- and supermarkets for French network in Poland.

Experts doubt the possibility of investing in the Polish market by running large format stores as the French prototypes. According to the magazine "Linéaires" Auchan hypermarkets with organic products will occupy an area from 5400 to 8600 sqm. and will be modeled on the Biocoop and La Vie Claire network. "Polish version of healthy food outlets will certainly be smaller. Although the interest in organic products is growing visibly, the best probable option is to place small shops within or in close proximity to urban residential areas. The most potential buyers of such products live there. The 100 square meters of sales area is enough. ​​Interior design and atmosphere should associate with the village atmosphere " - said Dariusz Gocławski.

Competitor from native backyard

E. Leclerc will soon bet on smaller stores with healthy food. French retailer will launch two formats before the holidays, including the Paris agglomeration. The first includes a facility with the size of 2000 sqm.The second one is a 400 sqm Espace Bio (Bio space). Ghislain Garesse, from the press office of E. Leclerc headquarters, confirmed implementation of the new concept stores, but did not specify when you can expect similar facilities in Poland. According to experts, possible implementation in our country will be based on the concept of copying down in France. "The biggest Polish cities will be taken into account, in which the organic products sector is not yet sufficiently developed, but number of customers looking for "bio" steadily increases" - Dariusz Gocławski notes. 

This view is shared by Tomasz Malinowski, Director of Sales at Organic Farm Health, Poland's largest network of organic food. It is estimated, however, that success will be difficult for the French. - Both of these networks were placed before the other customers, with great attention to the price factor, while consumers seeking "organic" products are more demanding and the price does not play a key role for them. Still, the majority of Polish society can not afford purchasing healthy food. Awareness of what organic products are is still quite low - says Tomasz Malinowski.

Ecological fish, dairy products, and even...paper

Other experts are not so skeptical and suggest that the location will be key factor. "Prices few dozen percent higher than average may deter uninformed customers. If, however, new stores would emerge in urban areas, near important transportation hubs such as subway, they could indicate profit in first year of operation. In the first quarter of this year we`ve helped to start two of "bio" shops in the vicinity of the Tesco hypermarket in Warsaw Kabaty" - told us the owner of A + D.

It won`t stop on dietetic foods and organic products in the new chains. In the "Heart of Nature" stores will also be biological dairy products, fish and meat. There will also be zone with ready-made frozen meals based on organic products, as well as the area with an assortment of alternative medicine.

"For E. Leclerc and Auchan these objects can also be a good point of sale for products sold in their supermarkets, such as recycled paper for printers, "bio" cosmetics, toilet paper and small furniture" - adds Dariusz Gocławski.

Improving the image

If by the end of the year none of the French network will decide to run a separate shop or health food stores, it certainly won`t stop them increasing investment in "bio" products. Dorota Patejko assured us that in 2012, Auchan significantly extended the shelf with organic products - this also applies to products available under its own brands. "Currently we have 250 certified products in our hypermarkets. 21 of them are products sold under our own brand. In upcoming months we intend to expand the range of goods" - told us Auchan Poland representative.

Systematic increase in the of organic products offer is also expected in the case of E.Leclerc. In Polish chain stores more than 150 items from the "eco" segment are available today. Soon new products will join: tea, coffee, jams and juices, as well as cosmetics based on natural ingredients. An investment in the "bio" range, even if it won`t prove to be lucrative venture, it still can bring image profits."When the E.Leclerc and Auchan will choose to copy the idea of ​​organic shops on Polish soil, it automatically can also improve their image. The new concept stores may provide perception of a modern network that follow the latest trends and constantly diversify the portfolio" - ends Dariusz Gocławski.

Marcin Zatyka

Retail News, No. 5 (115) May 2012