It was the event of the week. In La Ferté-Gaucher, a village of 4800 inhabitants of Seine-et-Marne, a few kilometers from the Marne, the opening of the Action store - the 526th in France - was more than expected. "The day of the inauguration (Editor's note: Thursday, June 25) , around thirty people were lining up outside at 8:30 am," says Benjamin Alby, regional manager. Since then, it has been almost a continuous flow. "
Met two days later, Brigitte, 61, confirms this enthusiasm. "How happy I am!" Until now, I had to travel thirty kilometers to find an Action ”, rejoices this assiduous client of the Dutch discounter established in France since 2012.
In his basket, around twenty articles: "A 12-euro carpet, bibs for my soon-to-be-born grandson, pacifiers, DIY materials, gloves, tea towels, freezer bags, two packs Tuc cookies… ”All for 56 euros. "I was reasonable this time," she smiles as the average price of items at Action is 1.70 euros according to the brand.
Since the deconfinement, in a context where the fear of difficult tomorrows is gaining more and more French households, this sign of "bazaar", with a third of its products for less than a euro, has returned to "frequentation as always important, ”says Wouter de Backer, managing director France. Even better: since May 11, "customers are spending more," he says. If in the early days, cleaning products were popular, today it is the items of paint, DIY, creative and sports items that sell best.
In this 800 square meter store in La Ferté-Gaucher, as in the 1596 that the group has across Europe, the aisles are wide, the shelves rather low, the decor minimalist. And if 150 to 200 new products are offered each week, the assortment is limited to 6000 references, where a Gifi, one of its competitors, sells 20,000. “We are convinced that our strength is the simplicity of our model, "says the boss, recalling that the brand sweeps fourteen product categories" through 65 own brands but above all 350 major brands, or 82% of the offer. "
No music, no marketing
The packaging is not always the same as that in supermarkets, the titles can be written in another language. But the prices are often attractive. The box of 6 Nutella B-Ready cookies sells for 1.85 euros (compared to 1.99 euros at Carrefour); the pack of Lay's barbecue-flavored crisps in family size 1.19 euros (against 1.54 euros), the twelve Bic markers at 1.99 euros (against 2.45 euros) or the set of 85 "classic" Finish tablets for dishwasher which is 7.79 euros against 7.50 euros the lot of 60 at Carrefour.
“Why do we have such low prices? The question would rather be: why do the others have such high prices, "smiles Wouter de Blacker, who highlights very rigorous cost management:" We spend very little on marketing and advertising, for example. We communicate mainly on Facebook, Instagram and through digital word of mouth. "
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The brand even deprives itself of music in its stores. "It comes at a cost and we don't see the use of it," he said, while the locations of points of sale - sometimes declining commercial areas - also make it possible to cut corners on rental prices. “It is both a company with very tight costs, with modern logistics, short ranges ordered in large quantities but also very flexible and pragmatic. The model is fairly close to that of Lidl in the food industry, ”analyzes Cédric Ducrocq, president of Dia-Mart, a strategy consulting firm.
The destockers are a hit
And if the bazaar and destocking sector is rather in shape in France with revenues up 20% between 2013 and 2018 and brands like "Foir'Fouille or Stokomani which are also hit, Superform Action", assures Cédric Ducrocq.
The Dutch brand, of which France is the largest market, achieved a turnover in Europe of 5.1 billion euros (+ 20% compared to the previous year). "With its prices so low, the customer has no qualms about buying even if he is a bit broke," continues the expert. It is a brand that helps fight frustration, in the same vein as Primark. "
This customer met on the shelves of the La Ferté-Gaucher store and whose basket overflows with articles nods. "I'm here to please myself. I came without a clear idea, these are opportunistic, spontaneous purchases, "says Eva, 52, showing these cushion covers at 3 euros, this cotton cleansing makeup at 60 cents or these flip flops at 1.39 euros. In total, she too will pay around fifty euros.