Mestdagh CEO Guillame Beuscart does not lack ambition: its 86 supermarkets that have joined the Intermarché chain are well capable of doubling their turnover under the new brand. This should enable the French retailer to overtake Colruyt as market leader in French-speaking Belgium.
Becoming market leader
Beuscart faces the huge task of integrating the 86 supermarkets within the Intermarché group. Eventually, the ‘Musketeers’ want to become the market leader in Wallonia and Brussels. With a current market share of 12.4 %, they are still well behind Colruyt’s 30 %, but the CEO sees a lot of possibilities.
An average Mestdagh supermarket generates sales of around 4,500 euros/sqm, not even half as much as Belgium’s 77 Intermarché shops at 9,500 euros/sqm. That statistic illustrates the potential of the former Carrefour Market outlets within the new constellation, he told newspaper L’Echo. However, doubling sales per square metre will take time, the CEO realises. Today, Mestdagh and Intermarché in Belgium have combined sales of 1.6 billion euros; within three years, that should become 2 billion.
Move to franchising
Intermarché’s concept brings a new commercial dynamic, with competitive prices – especially for fresh produce – and a strong private label offering. The strength of the member entrepreneurs also makes a difference: they invest in their shops, they know their customers and their region.
51 integrated branches of Mestdagh will move to franchising and be further adapted to the Intermarché shop concept. This will involve heavy investments: enlargements, new aisles… Potential buyers must therefore be able to present solid financial guarantees. They will also have to go through a rigorous selection process with a training period of at least six months.
Intermarché is strongly rooted in Wallonia, where the group has been present for thirty years and has doubled its turnover over the past five years. With the takeover of the Mestdagh shops, the chain also becomes active in Brussels, where purchasing power and consumer preferences are quite different. A golden opportunity, Beuscart believes, as entering the Brussels market on its own would have taken years.
Two of the newly acquired stores also introduce Intermarché in the Dutch-speaking North of Belgium. However, that market is already very busy and even a solid newcomer like Jumbo is having a hard time. Therefore, ambitions up North will be rather modest: the shops in Tienen and Aarschot will be laboratories to test the potential of the Intermarché concept in Flanders. The CEO does believe in the opportunities: the shops close to the language border already attract quite a lot of Flemish customers today, he says.