OMNICHANNEL: “Our staff transform the business with us”
Ludovic Holinier was appointed in 2019 to run the Belgian Group Louis Delhaize (turnover €7.925 billion, more than 900 points of sale), after managing Sun Art, the Auchan Group’s subsidiary in China. As C.E.O. of Cora Group and Managing Director of the Delhaize Group, he gave Global Retail News his vision of the omnichannel, socially responsible and local transformation of the Group in Europe.
Can you outline the Louis Delhaize Group in Europe?
L.H.: Created in Belgium 145 years ago, with an anniversary celebration this year, the Louis Delhaize Group operates in France, Belgium, Luxembourg and Romania. We work in the food sector (hypermarket, supermarket, convenience and proximity plus via the Houra.fr e-commerce site) with brands with strong local identities (Cora, Match, Smatch) and specialised distribution (Truffaut, Animalis). We are a family Group with 29,000 employees. We have Galimmo, a property company. In 2019, at the termination of our supply contract with Francap, our turnover was €7.925 billion. This was the same as 2018. In 2014 a purchasing partnership contract was agreed with Carrefour France for dry and fresh industrial products. We extended this into Belgium in 2019.
How did you overcome lockdown restrictions?
L.H.: Thanks to swift flexibility of service, which is praised by customers, and the commitment of staff, we have had a good first half year. We were reporting positive revenue for January and February 2020, which allowed capacity to absorb additional costs relating to Covid-19. We discovered unexpected resilience during the lockdown. This crisis gave us the opportunity to strengthen a local reputation and customer loyalty with producers in the catchment areas of our four countries. This would not have been possible without the broad autonomy traditionally enjoyed by the managers of our Cora hypermarkets. We were also able to test our “outside the walls” development strategy, which consists of three components: drive through (pedestrian or not), delivery and click & collect at customer collection points. During the lockdown, these 3 channels won new customers and convinced us of their full potential.
How do you capture these sales that are made “outside the walls” of stores?
L.H.: We decided to use partners for customer collection points, including dry cleaners, record stores, hairdressers and even town halls. This approach allows us to reach a rural clientele. The service matches those customers who travel a long way to shop with us, and villages and towns that do not have a retail hub. We have 300 partners and aim to double this to 600 by the end of 2020. It’s a fast and efficient but cost-effective way of networking our sales territory with limited investment. To further support our customers, we will deploy the new “Cora en Ville/Cora in Town” stores for walk-in click & collect after pilots in France at Metz and Charleville-Mézières. We aim about 10 units by the end of 2020.
For home delivery, we don’t grant exclusivity to any partner. We decide the most suitable delivery platform for each country. We partner in France with Deliveroo but with Food Panda for Romania.