No classic checkouts, sliding prices, no national brands and only 2,000 product references: French discount chain Leader Price is making a comeback as LP, with a radically new concept.
No flyers or brands
Leader Price is back in a new guise: its owner Casino is testing an LP pilot store in Normanville, France, in one of the last remaining Leader Price supermarkets. Two years ago, Casino sold 545 shops belonging to the discount format – and three warehouses – to rival Aldi. The group was left with only a few shops and the rights to the brand.
With high inflation driving the French into the arms of discounters, Casino is now once again developing a network of discount supermarkets: “There is a place to be won in hard-discount in France”, project manager Thibault Zitoun told Mieux Vivre. He might have gotten his inspiration from the would-be arrival of Russian hard-discounter Mere. That did not happen in the end, but it did expose the opportunities.
The LP supermarket in Normanville covers about 650 sqm and boasts prices that are lower than or at least equal to those of its competitors. To achieve this, it had to cut costs as much as possible. This means no leaflets or promotions, hardly any national brands (apart from Coca-Cola and Ferrero brands) and an assortment of only 2,000 items. The limited range not only means that less storage space is needed, but also that there are fewer stock-outs, which results in lost sales, and fewer shelves to restock.
Another feature is the sliding price scale: customers can buy products by the piece, by the box or even by the whole pallet – the prices go down with the volume. For example, a kilo of sugar cubes costs 83 cents, for a six-kilo box you pay 79 cents per kilo and for a 660-kilo pallet the price per kilo is 75 cents. So organisations and restaurant owners can go there as well. The system seems to be working, since ten months after the opening of the prototype store, 10 % of its turnover comes from the sale of boxes, reports Le Monde. In any case, all the products are displayed on pallets, as was the case at Mere.
There are no traditional checkouts either: customers scan their purchases with a scanner or their smartphone, leave them in their – larger than normal – trolley at the checkout and simply transfer to their car. Although it is far from certain that all the elements of this test shop will be retained. The concept is evaluated each month by a consumer panel and ultimately it is the remaining Leader Price franchisees who choose whether to go ahead with the LP concept. However, at least a dozen branches are reportedly already planned.