Delhaize CEO Frans Muller will have to guide the Ahold - Delhaize integration in the next few years, but what can we expect? He will divulge his vision extensively at the upcoming RetailDetail Congress.
When he took over as Delhaize Group CEO in November 2013, the expectations were extremely high. 30 months later, the food retail industry has thoroughly altered and we see the arrival of a new retail group, strong in the East of the United States and the Benelux.
Merger company Ahold Delhaize's strategy is clear, as the CEO recently mentioned during Delhaize's recent extraordinary general assembly. The group has a leading role in every market and is mainly active in supermarkets. Ahold Delhaize is looking for growth opportunities for its convenience stores and wants to continue its leading eCommerce and omnichannel positions.
“Store is also meeting place”
If supermarkets are to remain the new merger company Ahold Delhaize's most important formula, then how does Frans Muller see his supermarket of the future? Last year, he told RetailDetail Magazine that he feels fresh food is very important and that a supermarket should be as close to the consumer as possible. The store will also have a social function: you will not only head there to shop, but also to meet each other.
“An aging audience and digital communication that takes away personal contact create the need for a meeting place, where new and fresh products can inspire consumers. Obviously, such a store should be sustainable, both in its techniques and its product range."
“Online food sales are complex”
Digital expertise should become one of Ahold Delhaize's highlights and flagship qualities. Does Frans Muller see a large future for food online? “You have to make choices as a retailer. Online food sales are complex and the last mile to the consumer is extremely expensive. You will have to find customers that will have to pay the fee or you will have to be willing to accept lower margins. Another option is to consider the total picture, with a hybrid customer that not online orders online, but also shops in the store."
“Online food sales still carry smaller margins than offline food sales, so you have to wonder how you are going to deal with all this, especially if you also want to deliver items at the customer's doorstep", he said. Are delivery points (like the French Drives) the solution? "It is a very weekend-focused business, so I would like to see the numbers. We have our own click & collect service, but with an improved product range - both fresh and canned food - we could convince a lot of customers to visit our supermarkets, I think. We have an excellent store network, with decent geographical store coverage compared to our competition."
Frans Muller will present his vision at the RetailDetail Congress on Thursday 28 April in Willebroek, near Antwerp (Belgium). If you want to join, please head to retaildetail.be/events for more information.