Discounter Lidl has earmarked EUR70mn for investment in Portugal this year. Speaking with newspaper Expresso, Country Manager Afroditi Pampa explained the sum is likely to go into the opening of six new stores and the remodelling of approximately 70 existing sites.
This refurbishment will include – where appropriate – the roll-out of the Cafetaria concept, an instore café area, which is unique to Portuguese Lidl stores. In addition, a new food take-away concept will be trialled in a store in Porto.
The Schwarz Group-owned discounter closed their last financial year (ending 28 February 2017) with 246 Portuguese stores in total, having invested EUR50mn over the period.
Coffee machines have already become the new standard at refurbished Lidl stores. As have instore bakeries. And customer toilets. And baby changing rooms. So, will lounge chairs and large TV screens playing blockbusters be the next tactics to increase dwelling times?
Jokes aside, does the roll-out of the Cafetaria concept (which means cafeteria, in case you haven’t figured that out) mark another new step in the discounter’s up-trading strategy? At first glance, you would probably say no, hinting at the high costs for staff, cleaning and hygiene.
At second glance, however, the concept may not be as expensive as it sounds – if you have the space. The spectacularly resolute and undeterred roll-out of instore bakeries to all 10,000 Lidl stores has necessitated an additional staff member per outlet anyway. Why not give him or her more to do? When adjacent to the bakery, the café counter and a few tables are easy to serve. Offer some pastries and rolls from the bakery, and add a few chilled beverages from your shelves. There is a new customer toilet anyway, in case it’s required by law. That is all you need.
It is true: emotion may be lacking, somehow. Biedronka, the leading Polish discounter held by Portuguese Jerónimo Martins, can tell you a thing or two about it. Its own cafeteria scheme, modelled on Portuguese cafés, simply didn’t work and was later discontinued. Meanwhile, the integrated bistro concept, Wiele DobreGo, is still in the pilot phase.
But back home in Portugal, Jerónimo Martins’ Pingo Doce supermarkets have been extremely popular; they offer cafés, food take-aways and other services – alongside an astonishingly price aggressive food range that can easily keep up with Lidl. The banner will generate sales of EUR4.1bn this year, according to LZ Retailytics data, which compares with just EUR1.6bn for Lidl.
Add to this the fact that Spanish price champion Mercadona is due to enter the market shortly and you will understand Lidl’s eager efforts in Portugal. Should it work, we will surely see it pop up in other countries as well.