The Dutch Ahold group will experience increased competition for its German AH to go stores, as local giant Rewe will try out its Rewe to go convenience stores at 10 different Aral gas stations.
Careful choice may fail to pay out
Rewe has stated that it will open its first new Rewe to go in an Aral gas station in Düsseldorf on 3 April, and aims for ten such stores by August, all in Aral gas stations. These convenience stores will all be located in the region of Bochum-Düsseldorf-Cologne, on or near busy roads leading to city centres.
Adding 10 new Rewe to go stores results in 15 stores in total for 2014, which means it will have more than double the number of AH to go stores, which recently opened its sixth store in January. Rewe has been testing its 'to go' format since May 2012, but so far its number of stores is limited to 5.
Disappointment for Ahold in Germany
Ahold had tried to steer away from the fierce German supermarket competition by aiming for the convenience store market, but Rewe's move seems to have hampered AH's 'safe' move towards Germany.
The company has already denied claims that it would no longer put any effort into its German operations, but Rewe's move into the convenience branch will not exactly stimulate Albert Heijn to power ahead with AH to go in Germany.
The positive side for Ahold to this joint initiative between Rewe and Aral is that the convenience market in Germany is making strides foward, as a successful entry of this 'to go' concept might actually help Ahold in Germany as well. In any case, Rewe has said it will evaluate the success of its ten pilot stores in a year's time.
Large competitor with a strong partner
Ahold is now faced with a large competitor who has managed to attract a strong partner as well, as Aral is Germany's largest gas retailer with more than 2,500 stations. Every Aral customer can get into the Payback loyalty program, which Rewe has also started using this month.
This makes the Rewe to go and Aral connection even stronger, putting Albert Heijn at a disadvantage as it has no partner in Germany.The results of the new cooperation will not only be closely followed in Rewe's headquarters in Cologne, but also at Zaandam.