Under its new CEO Stefan Goethaert, Belgian retailer Colruyt Group will not take any major strategic turns. However, the retailer will focus more strongly on cost efficiency, growth and digitisation.
At a press briefing, Colruyt Group commented on the annual results, the strategy and the recently announced change at the top. “I am not going to replace Jef: after all, that is impossible”, Goethaert said. The new CEO (starting 1 July) added: “When you see how he has built the group’s identity and culture, that is one of the reasons why I am still here. I am therefore reassured for the future: we have a solid foundation.”
Under the new CEO, do not expect any major strategic changes in direction: “Colruyt is sailing ahead”, Goethaert stated. He emphasises the company’s values-driven approach: for Colruyt, its social role and earnings model go hand in hand. The company will soon announce a new set of sustainability objectives.
The group will continue to focus on its four business areas of food, health, non-food and energy. Goethaert defines four priorities: continue to focus on cost efficiency; the combination of physical and digital (“phygital”); focus on craftsmanship (“We want to be the best at what we do”); and growth. Goethaert sees there are still a lot of opportunities, also in Belgium. The main shift in emphasis we read between the lines is digitisation as a major priority, with the Xtra platform as the digital gateway to consumers.
“Pushing back on the accelerator”
“I am glad we are here”, a visibly relieved Jef Colruyt concluded. “With combined forces, we got through the Covid-19 crisis. I felt then how strong the group hangs together. Ukraine gave us another push, challenged us on our cost management. We made a lot of decisions recently, now we are quietly coming through the curve and can push back on the accelerator.”
“The advantage of stopping in the low point, is that the only way is up for the next team. About myself: in 1994, I took charge of a company worth a billion euros, and look where we are today… Not bad, I think? I have given what I had, I can be content. As chairman, I will now support the new team, and challenge them where necessary.”