Makro is looking to remodel its entire UK estate over the next five years, managing director Philipp Dautzenberg told the FWD Annual Conference.
He said the changes would be based on the work carried out at the company’s Charlton depot late last year.
Dautzenberg said the changes had not only been physically remodelling the store, but also altering mindsets and ways of working as well.
He said he was happy with the ultra fresh (meat, fish, fruit and vegetables) department, which they expanded from 50 to around 300 articles, although this had now settled at about 280.
He admitted that in the early stages “we lost serious money but that is part of the investment”. However, he said: “Bakery was a disaster. It was just not good enough. It is the only fresh area we will have to improve going forward.”
The remodelled wine and spirits departments also worked well, he said, although he wanted to increase the ranges. He was less happy with the dry and drinks side, where he said: “We have not gone far enough.” He added: “It is probably the area where we will have to do most work.”
Many of the changes were intended to make Makro more attractive to horeca (hotel, restaurant, catering) customers and Dautzenberg said he was surprised by how quickly the market has reacted to the changes.
Another innovation introduced at Charlton was customer relations managers focusing on horeca, and he said this would now be rolled out to all 33 Makro stores. He said: “We are looking to develop more contact with customers,” and described customer relationship managers as a “high-cost communication tool for high-quality customers”.
In addition, Makro will be rolling out horeca sales forces to 12 stores during the rest of the year and will have department managers in some destination areas in stores to give customers specialist advice.