Belgium's biggest supermarket chain, Colruyt, is launching a test store in Brussels to see if it can expand into the professional market. This would be another blow to the ailing Metro branch in the country.
Exclusively for professionals
Colruyt Professionals hopes to lure in managers of small, local businesses, who already visit regular Colruyt supermarkets in droves. The Belgian market leader now hopes to tap into the professional market with a tailored store: "In Brussels, our turnover from professional customers is almost twice as high as it is in other regions", regional director André Giglio explains. "It is therefore only logical that we offer them a store concept that caters specifically for their needs".
The new 2,500 sqm store offers a selection of 2,500 product references, based on sales to professionals in nearby supermarkets. Store manager Vincent Kestemont elaborates: "At Colruyt Professionals, we offer professionals the lowest prices in the area. On one side, we compare our prices to other regular supermarkets; on the other side, we compare them to prices at other wholesalers. In this store, we will add exclusive benefits for professionals on top of the regular Colruyt discounts."
New store for regular customers
The pilot store has been designed with professional customers in mind: its aisles are wider, its shopping trolleys flat to accommodate for large purchases. These can then easily be put into the customer's car or van via a loading platform. To ensure that only professional customers shop here, access to the store is limited to Professional Plus card holders only.
Next door on the same site the chain will open a separate, regular supermarket next week. At 974 sqm, it just stays below the limit of 1000 sqm imposed by the Brussels Capital Region. This limit is exactly the reason why Colruyt felt the need to develop the new professional concept as a separate entity: its Brussels stores are already smaller than the Belgian average and have no room for such a trial.