The Italian hypermarket specialist Bennet has opened its very first supermarket under a new banner named Bennet Smart. The 1,200 sq m pilot store was opened recently inside the shopping centre Le Piazze in Lecco, Northern Italy. The target group of the store are millennials who, according to the retailer, have such different demands that they deserve a tailored shopping experience, Italian magazine GDO News writes. Consequently, the store offers detailed product information through digital signage and kiosks, a wide assortment of special interest categories like vegan, free-from and organic as well as many ready meals and instant food items.
Italian magazine GDO Week writes that the store has 9,000 SKUs of which 1,200 are fresh groceries and 530 organic. Fresh meat, fish and bakery products play a large role in the assortment. For added convenience, Bennet Smart also only has self-checkouts with three being mobile scanning tills and six traditional self-checkouts.
Bennet, realising the need to adapt to changed shopping behaviours, has in recent years opened more compact hypermarkets, converted and even closed big boxes not compatible with its future plans. Piloting a supermarket banner is the next step in its transformation journey and a needed one. LZ Retailytics forecasts Italian hypermarkets with an average sales area above 4,000 square metres to increase only by 4% between 2017 and 2022. In comparison, we expect the supermarket channel to grow by more than 12% in the same period. For Bennet’s hypermarkets we even forecast a drop in sales from EUR1.559bn to EUR1.536bn.
Supermarkets could turn into a future growth engine for Bennet and provide the retailer with important knowledge about proximity shopping. Further, all other major big box operators have supermarkets in their portfolio which makes it even more vital for Bennet not to lose out on the growing preference for proximity shopping. Catering to a specific audience in the form of millennials could be an important differentiator and help to gain a strong loyalty among this group if done right. It certainly seems like the concept has the necessary elements to achieve this and Bennet already has an edge when it comes to fresh groceries.
In the vicinity of the new store in Lecco, Bennet already has a hypermarket in one of its shopping centres and another one located six minutes away by car. This illustrates how the retailer could continue expanding in regions where it has a high brand awareness through this new format. Still, it will likely have to develop its skills in finding plots for these smaller formats. Typically, Bennet operates hypermarkets in its own shopping centres and it can no longer rely on those if a wider roll-out is to take place.
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