A new Biedronka outlet featuring a hitherto unseen store concept has opened its doors in the Spiski Palace at the medieval town square of Krakow. The store interior is characterised by an elegant mix of white architectural elements and store fittings clad in dark wood, used in the fruit and vegetable department as well as for store shelf coverings. Department signage is held in black and white with the conventional shrill promotional flags miraculously absent and the bright Biedronka yellow reduced to a discreet band at floor level. Surprisingly, even the discounter’s standard pallet placements at the gondola ends and for fast moving goods are missing. With summer season approaching, mineral water and other beverages are neatly lined up next to each other. On the shelf. Each bottle placed there by hand.
Is Biedronka testing a premium store pilot or is the new Krakow store just one of the more unconventional locations in the discounter’s portfolio? For sure the increased vigour of the Polish grocery market together with a trend towards convenience and quality creates additional demand in the premium segment. However, the recent example of Alma Market shows that success cannot be taken for granted – especially with most market players stepping up their fresh competence and expanding their international and national specialty ranges.
We believe, that the new store does not mark the beginning of an era of Biedronka Delicatessen or similar, at least not under the same banner. The discounter has been working too hard to gain its position as price leader and has created a strong rapport with the Polish consumer – mainly due to its high share of Polish-origin products and its sophisticated marketing campaigns.
Beyond any implications for the Biedronka brand, an upmarket concept would also have to include serviced counters, which were abandoned after testing them in several Warsaw stores a couple of years ago. Also, the own brand assortment under the La Speciale brand would qualify as a premium concept, but so far has largely been used to snatch away footfall from big box competitors during holiday season. It seems to us, that the new Krakow store joins the ranks of smaller stores with unique designs – of which there are many already operating at several main train stations in larger Polish cities. We therefore see this store from Biedronka as a quest for the last remaining unchartered catchment areas in inner city districts and not the first of many upmarket stores.