Dutch wholesaler Sligro has started reopening its recently acquired Belgian Metro shops today. The first to carry the name Sligro-M was the store in Hasselt. The other stores will follow in the next ten days, a feat whose scale and risk are only now becoming clear.
As little change as possible
Metro’s wholesale shops in Belgium have closed their doors for good on New Year’s Eve, but today the first store is already open again. From now on, it will carry the name Sligro-M: the third brand Sligro uses in Belgium, after Sligro ISPC and Java.
Apart from the name, changes will remain limited: “Customers should notice as little change as possible“, director Willem-Jan Strijbosch told Belgian newspaper De Tijd. After all, the new owner especially wants to avoid that competitors take away loyal customers of the previous incarnation.
Prepared for months
Sligro has been preparing for the conversion and reopening of the shops since October, Strijbosch now admits – even though the Dutch company did not know they could acquire the Metro shops until early December. That was a risky business: in order not to lose time and customers, Sligro bought stock for the shops months ago – while they did not even know if they would be the preferred buyer. In its own warehouses and those of suppliers, everything was already ready, waiting for the deal to be greenlit.
The IT conversion happened last week, with “hundreds of engineers”. The product range was also slightly changed, as were prices. Strijbosch says Metro had stopped adjusting its prices in line with inflation in recent months, so the trend seems to be mostly upwards. Although at the same time Sligro promises to throw its economies of scale into the fray.