Hopr, Belgium's first online supermarket, will start its activities next Monday, 19 April. Trialling in Hasselt, the goal is to expand to the whole of Belgium by 2026.
Week of trials
This Monday, Hopr will start with its first small-scale deliveries in the capital of Limburg, the province in the North-East of Belgium. If they go as planned, all inhabitants of Hasselt will be able to order at the new company by the end of this month. Ambitions do not end there, though: a gradual expansion should lead to the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium, and perhaps even the country's entire territory, being covered in five years' time.
The start will be a lot smaller, though: "We will buy most of our products at a wholesaler's, but we will also build a small stock of our own in a warehouse in Hasselt", founder Stijn Martens told Belgian newspaper De Tijd. Martens has bankrolled the trial himself, and he will also work in the warehouse and the deliveries in the early phase. The company will start out with half a dozen employees.
Hopr aims to offer a full range of fresh products (including fruit and vegetables, meat, fish, bread and ready-made meals) as sustainably as possible. A number of A-brands will be included (like Danone, Herta, Pringles, Soubry or Spa), but the company "will try to favour products made in Belgium", Martens explains.
If the online supermarket's first year turns out to be a success, Hopr will be able to access support by an unnamed Belgian investment fund in order to enable a scale-up. A highly automated distribution centre of 1,000 sqm offering 10,000 products is the aim: "That would allow us to become profitable", Martens says. Later on, more similar warehouses should enter service while Hopr expands throughout Belgium.
Martens wants to be different than the current online offer made by existing supermarkets. For this, Martens draws inspiration from his former employer Mobile Vikings: "When Vikings started, people said 'there is no place on the market' that already had Proximus, Orange and BASE. Still, we managed to establish ourselves well." Martens was the telecom operator's marketing director until 2016.