The Landmark Group has taken its first step into supermarket-type retailing in the UAE with the launch of four “food discounter” stores under the “Viva” brand.
But unlike mainstream super/hypermarket chains, Viva will only focus on food retailing — freshly prepared and packaged — and at steep discounts to prices elsewhere.
Landmark’s timing with the new business line could prove crucial — food counters are turning out to be a revenue and volume generator for leading supermarket chains over the last two years or so. Market sources say this has helped raise the average ticket sizes that shoppers ring up while on their daily or weekly rounds. Some supermarkets have sub-contracted third-parties to supply and manage these in-store food counters.
For Landmark to come in and create a stand-alone food-focused store thus opens up new possibilities, both for itself and the wider retail sector. “The way I see it, this is us entering the supermarket business in the UAE,” Renuka Jagtiani, Chairwoman and CEO, Landmark Group told ‘Gulf News’. “Whether it’s as a mainstream supermarket or niche, each one does it the way they really believe in.
“What we are doing is meeting a daily need and quite different from what we experience with our home or fashion business. It does create a new opening for us. And for shoppers coming to Viva, that’s 1,200 items sourced from different parts of the world.” (Landmark operates the Home Centre, Splash, Emax and Centrepoint concepts.)
From the four locations, Landmark has plans to scale up the network — through a further 11 stores in the UAE — in the near term. Jagtiani declined to say whether Viva is Landmark’s next big business line in the making. In recent years, the Group expanded its F&B business, its interests in hospitality and also went full steam into the online space with its brands.
Interestingly, Landmark had an understanding with a Dutch supermarket chain, Spar, but that was specifically for the India territory.
The launch of Viva could also mean that the UAE’s supermarket scene is ready for the “discount” wave that German chains Aldi and Lidl unleashed first in Europe and then, more recently, in the US. What they did was pull in a committed price conscious shopper base to their stores and at the expense of the established supermarket brands.
“A food discounter concept is powerful and disruptive,” said Georg J. Fischer, CEO, Viva. “Customers will experience a different way of shopping where the highest quality at cheapest prices is found in a compact format all at one place. They get in and out of our stores effortlessly thus saving them time and money.”